30 reports of ID theft at East Chicago tax service

February 16, 2010 2:56:54 PM PST
Dozens of East Chicago, Ind., residents who went to H&R Block had their identities stolen, police said.The IRS and East Chicago police are investigating claims that someone got a hold of taxpayers personal information.

Thirty former clients at the East Chicago, Ind., H&R Block have filed reports with police after their personal information was stolen. The victims discovered the thefts when trying to file taxes this year or after receiving tax return checks with incorrect amounts.

"Someone's using their social security numbers- and their dependents' social security numbers in some cases- and putting them on taxes," said Det. Terence Fife, East Chicago Police Dept.

East Chicago police are investigating 30 cases of possibly identity theft- all former clients at the East Chicago H&R Block. Detectives said the problems surfaced when former H&R Block clients tried to file taxes for this year and were told someone had already filed taxes ...and in some cases had gotten their tax return check.

"All these residents had used H & R Block on Main Street at some point and time, whether it's the past three years of fours years, they had used H & R Block," said Det. Fife.

The local IRS spokesperson cannot confirm or deny any investigation, but urges any taxpayer concerned about identity theft to contact the IRS through the website http://www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=186436,00.html .

"Provide information to us such as a police report where you filed the identity theft that took place and also copies of identification so we can work with you to get the issue resolved so your tax return can get filed and you can get any refund you have due," said Sue Hales, Internal Revenue Service.

In the meantime, a spokesperson for H & R Block said they have notified 27 East Chicago clients about possible problems and working with local authorities and the IRS.

"This situation is limited to a small number of clients in East Chicago, Indiana, and they have all been contacted. We have strict security measures in place to protect their information," said H & R Block Kate Rauber.

In couple of cases, taxpayers got refunds for far more than anticipated. While it may be tempting to cash those checks, authorities suggest not cashing them as the IRS may charge penalties once the investigation is concluded.