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RALEIGH, N.C. If you haven t filed your taxes yet, be aware that ID thieves are stealing and then using social security numbers to file phony returns to collect refunds.

ID thieves will use your personal information to open accounts in your name or even to steal your tax refund, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said. Guard your personal information carefully and check your credit report regularly to protect yourself.

Cooper s office says that identity thieves are using stolen Social Security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns.

Consumers usually don t know that they re a victim of the scam until they try to file their tax returns and learn from the Internal Revenue Service that someone has already filed in their name -- and claimed their refund.

Cooper s office is hearing from as many 15 victims of this form of identity theft a week. If you suspect that someone has falsely filed taxes in your name, Attorney General Cooper s office sent the following tips to NewsChannel 36:

- Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit immediately at 1-800-908-4490.

- Check your credit reports for any unauthorized activity.

- You can get one free credit report per year from each of the three national credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com

.- Request a fraud alert from any of the three national credit bureaus.

- Consider a security freeze to stop access to new credit in your name. NC residents can get security freezes for free online

- File an ID theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.


One phony email reported to Cooper s office this week includes a very official looking IRS logo and claims that the recipient owes a $10,000 penalty for not filing the income tax return prior to January 31, 2012.

The message says that the penalty may be waived and prompts the consumer to click on a link and enter a website for more information.

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