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ID theft delays some tax refunds

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)   Tax time is getting to be prime-time for identity theft in Wisconsin.

The state's consumer protection agency received almost 400 complaints about identity theft last year. 57-percent of those victims, or 227, said their income tax returns were rejected because somebody stole their information and beat them to a refund.

Victims can get their situations rectified -- but it often takes months of paperwork to clear their names. Both the I-R-S and the Wisconsin Revenue Department recently announced safeguards to make sure people get a chance to file their own returns.

The Federal Trade Commission reported 160,000 cases of tax identity theft around the country for 2012. That's four times more than just two years earlier. Among other things, officials urge you not to answer phone calls and e-mails from someone claiming to be from the I-R-S. The F-T-C said almost half of identity thieves use their stolen data to obtain government benefits and commit wage-related fraud. Thirteen percent receive credit cards in the victims' names.