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FBI warns: Fake tax returns are soaring

The FBI's online fraud site, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), issued an alert on Thursday that complaints from victims about phony tax returns being filed using their information doubled from 2013 to this year.

"Some complainants reported that before filing their 2013 taxes, they were notified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that they were being audited or under review," IC3 said in the scam alert. "Others reported receiving a rejection notice from the IRS when they attempted to electronically file their taxes."

Victims were informed that their Social Security Numbers had been used to file a return. The situation creates a considerable inconvenience to victims who must then file an identity-theft report and mail in their tax returns rather than file online.

In some cases, IC3 reported, victims also reported that thieves fraudulently opened lines of credit and took out credit cards.

The alert did not report how many complaints were filed. IC3 is jointly operated by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

The IRS says you've likely become a victim of identity theft if you're notified that a return was previously filed, that you received more pay than you really did, or that government benefits were limited or eliminated due to an income change that didn't happen.

If you receive an IRS notice that you believe was caused by identity theft, the IRS urges consumers to immediately call the number provided on the notice.

If you didn't get a notice, but suspect you're a victim, the IRS has set up a unit to help protect victims' tax accounts. You can reach the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245. The agency also has an affidavit of identity theft you can submit. And you can get guidance about dealing with this situation from the Federal Trade Commission.