MILWAUKEE- For many people that tax refund is all they can depend on for extra cash during the year, so imagine having it stolen. It's happened to Shannon Biehle twice.
When a coworker told Biehle she could help her file taxes, she agreed. It would turn out to be a costly decision.
The first red flag was when Biehle paid the woman $400 but didn't receive any paperwork for her completed taxes. She was expecting a big refund but never received. That's when Biehle knew she was duped.
\"She never gave me my state check, so then I know she got me then,\" Biehle said.
The first incident happened last year, when Biehle tried to file on her own this year, she was told that someone had already filed on her behalf. Biehle believes it was the same woman. She's since lost out on more than $6000 and now owes money. The IRS says it may take more than a year to clear everything up.
Wisconsin Better Business Bureau President Ran Hoth says tax scams are not uncommon. In fact, in 2012 more than 160-thousand were victims of tax identity theft. The scammers take stolen social security numbers and W-2's and file. Hoth says it's important to know who you're dealing with.
\"You are sharing your personal history with them, so you want to make sure it's safe and secure and protected,\" Hoth said.
Here are a few more tips to keep you protected:
Take prepared returns directly to the post office, scammers are stealing them from mailboxes.
Never file on a public wi-fi internet system, only secure connections.
Also, know your tax preparer, it's best to choose one from the BBB or another trusted source.
If you are a victim, call the IRS immediately.