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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Identity theft is reportedly on the rise when it comes to stealing social security numbers to file false IRS tax returns. Thieves are generating fraudulent refunds for themselves, stealing an estimated $5 billion from the IRS.

One Fort Worth dentist knows the problem all to well. “It’s pretty frustrating,” said Chad Duplantis. He was looking forward to a refund this year, then on Monday learned his and his wife’s joint e-file return was kicked back. Someone had stolen his wife’s identity. “An income tax return had been filed under my wife’s social security number,” he told CBS 11 News.

Panicked, Duplantis spent hours online looking for guidance. He said he tried the IRS phone line, but had no luck. “I attempted calling but they’re not accepting phone calls.”

Eventually the dentist downloaded and filled out all the needed forms, but now the return had to be stamped and hand mailed — not e-filed — because of the paperwork. And satisfying the IRS lessens only a few of his worries. “It’s always scary to know your social security number’s out there somewhere, that somebody has it… not just your social security number but your name and fraudulent tax return.”

Officials with the IRS did not answer our requests for an on-camera interview, but it does cover what to do in this situation online and YouTube and. There are five basic steps.

  1. File an ID theft affidavit with the IRS.
  2. File an FTC fraud complaint (paperwork for both are online.)
  3. Check with the Social Security Administration to make sure their income numbers about you matches yours.
  4. Notify local police of the fraud.
  5. Tell credit reporting agencies such as Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

Duplantis believes ID theft for income tax refunds is widespread in North Texas. “I can name six other people I’ve heard of in the last day that this has happened to as well,” he claims.

Click here to find out more about identity theft and your social security number.

Click here for IRS information on what to do if you are the victim of tax ID theft.

Find out more identity protection tips from the IRS.

Check out the IRS guide to “Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance.”

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