WSVN -- Barbara Cornavaca: "I just feel violated. I feel like they are ripping me apart again."
An unexpected $4,000 check from the IRS seems like a godsend, except when it's for a tax refund that you never filed.
Barbara Cornavaca: "I opened the check and it only stated out to my name. I do a joint return. This can't be possible."
Meet Barbara Cornavaca, just one of the many people falling victim to identity fraud this tax season. Someone stole her identity and filed a return in her name.
Barbara Cornavaca: "And I'm thinking, that's weird. I just gave my paperwork to my accountant on Friday, and this was Monday, so that was too quick."
Investigators say a phony bank account was also set up to get the funds directly deposited, but in a twist of fate, the IRS accidentally sent her the physical check instead.
Barbara Cornavaca: "The bank wasn't able to deposit my income tax as I requested, that the bank rejected the deposit."
Now this is not the first time someone has stolen Cornavaca's identity.
Just a few years ago, her purse was swiped with her social security card inside.
Barbara Cornavaca: "The last time, this was about three years ago, someone with my social had a house for $250,000 and with a husband that's not mine."
Barbara Cornavaca: "I get knots in my stomach thinking there are people out there desperate for money, committing any kind of crime. We get victimized by these people."
There are a few ways you can prevent yourself from being victimized. The IRS is giving us some helpful tips on how to combat identity fraud.
Daniel Auer, IRS special agent: "Be very careful and protective of your financial info and data. Be careful and selective on who you choose to be your preparer, and I will send out a final word to those who would think about stealing someone's identity: Don't do it."
The tax deadline is rapidly approaching, April 15th is a month away. The IRS wants you to be aware of the schemes out there.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
IRS Tax Fraud Alertshttp://www.irs.gov/compliance/enforcement/article/0,,id=121259,00.html