ID theft can take many forms, but victims can spend 300 hours clearing their name

TAMPA – The IRS estimates one third of the tax refund fraud takes place in Florida but it is not the only big-money rip-off involving identity theft.

Hillsborough County deputies made three arrests this month in connection with what they call ‘felony lane’ fraud.  Cpl. Bruce Crumpler, who heads up economic crimes, says one of the men was caught at a Brandon hotel with a plastic bag full of stolen drivers’ licenses, credit cards, social security cards and passports.  “They go and use that information at banks and try to cash checks to obtain what ever they can from the stolen item,” said Crumpler.

Victims like Barbara Banyak learned the painful way that being careful was not enough to shield against a crime that can take months, even years, to recover from.

The bad guys are getting their hands on our personal information in a multitude of ways from stealing mail and snatching purses to buying social security numbers.  While the IRS has begun cooperating with law enforcement and lawmakers are pledging to get new laws on the books to stem the tide of ID theft-based tax fraud, consumers can step up to prevent it.

1) File your tax return early
2) Ask doctors if they can take another ID number other than your Social Security Number.
3) Write “check ID” on the back of your credit card so retailers check for a picture ID.

We will be shredding your documents for free on Saturday June 30.  Visit for more information.

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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