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State officials: Efforts to prevent identity theft through tax refunds successful

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - State officials are reporting success in their efforts to stop identity thieves from beating income tax filers to their refunds.

It's a growing problem nationally. In Wisconsin, the state Revenue Department began a program earlier this year to verify the identities of certain taxpayers before their refunds go out.

The agency now says the program and other initiatives stopped just under $50 million in falsely claimed refunds from going out during the last fiscal year. That includes almost $18 million in earned income tax credits for the poor that were fraudulently claimed -- plus another $15 million for Homestead tax relief for low-income residents.

The figures were announced by the governor's office. It said the revenue agency stopped a total of $134 million in fraudulent refunds and tax adjustments in the past four years -- up from $60 million the previous four years.

The current state budget included almost $7.5 million for anti-tax fraud enforcement.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)