Tax season 2014: Scammers use fake tax returns to claim big bucks

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - With the tax deadline only a few days away, some people are filing only to find out they've been scammed.

Hundreds of people have filed their taxes and then immediately receive a rejection notice. Apparently thieves have claimed billions of dollars in bogus tax refunds from the IRS by stealing Social Security numbers and identities of school children in Florida.

Investigators said thieves have even recruited mail carriers to help steal personal information.

The scam ends up landing legitimate taxpayers in a lot of paperwork that could take months. Some victims end up paying thousands in attorneys’ fees trying to straighten out the problem.

The IRS says no one is immune, but the best way to avoid tax fraud is to protect your Social Security numbers and other personal information. Changing your passwords frequently is also recommended.

Part of the problem is because the goal of the IRS is to distribute refunds quickly.  This often results refunds being sent out before verifying wages and other income information.

The average wait for identity theft victims to clear their cases had been about 10 months, but the IRS says that number is down to three months.

The agency has reportedly more than doubled the number of employees working on identity theft.

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