OLIVE BRANCH, MS (abc24.com) - Imagine filing your tax return and learning your refund has already been given to someone using your social security number. It's already happened to a number of people in Olive Branch this tax season.
Major Tim Presley with Olive Branch Police says seven people have reported problems in the last month, where a return has already been filed with their social security number and information.
"Seven is a lot for us. Last year we may have had one or two," said Presley. "Most people, they really have no idea."
That is, until they go to file their taxes.
To avoid becoming a victim, Presley advises that documents with any personal information always be shredded.
Presley also noted, "We do get reports of people saying when put their garbage out on street, somebody's going through their garbage. We say it might be a good idea to keep your garbage cart up by your house so they're actually trespassing," which carries a harsher punishment.
Identity theft is a federal crime, so always report it to the IRS. But Presley says it's also a good idea to tell local cops.
"Sometimes we can tie it into something local," he said. "Once it's taken, yes, you can get all of it straightened out but it can take a couple of years."
And so can your refund.