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Missing Stimulus Money: Chicago Couple's Stimulus Check In The Hands Of An Identity Thief

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago area couple was counting on their stimulus money, but it never arrived, all because someone stole the husband's identity.

Jim and Dawn Ackerman could use the $1,200 stimulus payments they each expected from the government.

"My husband lost his job," Dawn said. "We don't have a whole lot of money like some people have put away. We don't have that, so we're the type of people that we need every penny."

But for now, they won't get a dime because Jim is the victim of Identity theft. When he tried to file his 2019 taxes two weeks ago, he learned his social security number had already been used by a thief.

"Somebody claimed him as a spouse or a dependent," Dawn said.

The bad news was confirmed when they checked on the status of their stimulus money. The information doesn't match their tax return.

"We have seen an increase in identity theft with the announcement of stimulus checks," said Eva Velasquez, president of the ID Theft Resource Center of San Diego.

She points to national numbers from the Federal Trade Commission. Across the nation more than 1,800 consumers have complained to the IRS about ID theft related to the coronavirus. Sixty-nine of them live in Illinois.

"My question is is someone else getting our stimulus check?" said Dawn.

She won't like the answer.

"Unfortunately their stimulus check is in the hands of the scammer," Velasquez said. "It's in the hands of the thief that filed the original tax return. The reality is that they are going to have to work with the IRS to resolve this issue."

The couple has already filled out a complaint and must wait until the IRS can investigate.

"It could be the end of the year. Are my creditors going to understand that? I don't think so," said Dawn.

The deadline for filing taxes has been extended, but the longer you wait the greater your chances of someone using your social security number. Experts recommend you file 2019 taxes sooner than later.

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