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Tax professionals say stolen identity fraud on the rise

As Central Kentuckians mail in their tax forms, some are finding out a return's already been filed with their personal information and they didn't file it.

"I've been a victim of identity theft myself and it's no picnic," says Mark Enderle. Enderle is an accountant here in Lexington and says cases of fraudulent tax returns filed with stolen identities are on the rise.

"Dozens of times and it really has grown over probably the last three or four years," he says.

According to reports filed in the Lexington Police blotter, a few cases have already popped up in town. Enderle says thieves can steal Social Security numbers from credit applications or buy them on the black market, then file a tax return to get a refund. Unsuspecting victims may not know anything's wrong until they get a letter from the IRS.

"The IRS will send you a notice saying you've got unreported income," says Enderle. He says that's a letter you should take seriously.

"When you get a letter from the IRS, you respond to it immediately. Don't let it just lay thinking that this isn't my problem because it is until you get it resolved," he says.

He says there are ways to protect yourself.

"The most common place I see it is when you apply for different things. A lot of times they'll ask for your social security number when they don't really need it. Try to give the absolute minimum amount of information that they'll take," says Enderle.

Another way tax professionals say you can protect yourself from identity theft is to check your credit report frequently. They say resolving a case of identity theft could take over a year.

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