When a thief steals your ID, and IRS refund

Without a hitch, Miami natives Ed and Kelley Brill had filed their joint income-tax returns from the same home address for 14 years.

But this year, after obtaining an extension, the Miami Shores couple were shocked to learn that the Internal Revenue Service had rejected their electronically filed return. It turned out that a thief had stolen Kelley’s identity, Social Security number and employer’s name, then filed a falsified refund claim — beating the Brills to the punch.

Now, the parents of three school-age children — who still have no idea how they were victimized — must wait six to 12 months to get their $7,918 refund. Like hundreds of thousands of other Americans, the Brills are enduring a frustrating triple whammy: ID theft, tax fraud and IRS red tape.

“What gets me is the taxpayer who was ripped off and did nothing wrong has to prove himself to the IRS,” said Ed Brill, 50, a mortgage banker whose wife is a schoolteacher.

They learned from an IRS representative in November that Kelley’s ID was stolen and used for the fraudulent tax refund, but were told little else. “The IRS never bothered verifying anything filed by the crook who committed the crime,” said Brill. “I want to be afforded the same courtesy and efficiency that the crook was afforded by the IRS.”

The combustible issues of identity theft and tax fraud in the electronic age have forced the IRS to come up with smarter ways to detect phony refund claims, match employee-employer wage statements and handle victims’ refund problems.

Read the complete story at