When you think of ID Theft you think of someone running up your credit cards and hurting your credit score. ID Theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. But ID Theft is just not for your credit cards and your credit score. Did you know a person can submit a Tax Return in your name?

I was not aware of this particular side of ID Theft until last week. I attempted to e-file my taxes last week and received an error message stating that I cannot file multiple returns with the same social security number. So I called the IRS and was informed that I apparently had filed my taxes already.

Criminals across the country are raking in billions of dollars in tax refunds through a new and brazen form of fraud that takes advantage of the IRS’s fast online returns, law enforcement officials say.

Using laptops and free Wi-Fi connections, criminals are stealing identities and using the names of legitimate taxpayers to file fraudulent online tax returns. Fraudsters have raked in billions, buying luxury cars, expensive jewelry and other valuable items.

 This is how it works:

First, thieves obtain Social Security numbers and other personal information from insiders. This could be from your doctor’s offices, hospitals, car dealerships or anywhere your information is stored.

Then, they file an online tax return using the real taxpayer’s name and a fictitious income. In most cases, the criminals buy a debit card so the IRS can issue the refund on that card, although some thieves have also gotten their returns on actual Treasury checks.

Last year, the IRS reported 938,664 fraudulent returns related to identity theft, totaling $6.5 billion, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George told a House subcommittee this month.

This fraudulent activity is so prevalent that the IRS actually has a dedicated division for dealing with the cases where someone has stolen another person’s social security number and used it to file an income tax return. The IRS department to call for help is the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit 800.908.4490.

I had to mail in my tax returns last week and I will have to wait somewhere between 8 weeks to a year before I hear anything. Wish me luck; in the mean time take care of your personal information as well as your children’s information.