A Mt. Juliet woman wants the IRS to return an income tax refund she was entitled to a year ago that an identity thief had deposited in his account instead.
Roberta Brouse is an Army veteran. She said a VA hospital employee's laptop with her personal information was stolen in the fall of 2010.
"First they come up with don't worry about it, none of the social security numbers have been compromised. Nobody got them," she said.
But in February 2012 Brouse realized her information had been stolen. She went to file her tax return for 2011, but was told someone had already used her social security number to file a return.
Brouse said the person collected her income tax refund that was directly deposited in a bank account.
"When I first got it, it made me mad," she said. "Then I went down to the IRS and she was telling me about all the other people it happened to."
Brouse said the IRS employee she spoke with said several other people had also complained of having their income tax return stolen. She said the others had also had their information taken from the stolen VA employee's laptop.
IRS spokesman Dan Boone declined to comment on Brouse's case. He said he cannot comment on specific cases.
Brouse filed a police report in Mt. Juliet. She also contacted the Federal Trade Commission, the major credit bureaus and was issued a PIN from the IRS that allows her to file her taxes in a secure way.
However, Brouse has still not received her refund and she said the IRS told her Tuesday she would not get the refund.
"They said, ‘Oh we can't do anything about it. We already deposited it in his account. He owed us money so therefore we are going to keep it,'" she said. "That's not my fault they sent it to the wrong person they have the right address when they want to send me a bill."
According to Brouse the identity thief may be working with at least two other people and lives in the Nashville area.
She believes several other victims are in the same situation she is in as she tries to reclaim her identity.
Brouse is alerted whenever someone tries to use her social security number to make purchases or open accounts.
She said in the past few months she has received several letters from her bank alerting her to someone trying to open bank accounts and get a mortgage.
"Right now it's gotten to the place where I am telling the IRS it isn't funny anymore," she said. "I mean it was odd at first but now I'm in a place that it is just aggravating me."
The IRS has a special page set up with information for people who believe their identities have been stolen.
The agency also suggests reporting identity theft to the IRS immediately.
They can flag the victim's social security number to prevent someone from filing a fraudulent tax return.