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WASHINGTON (AP) — The IRS reports that the number of identity theft victims plummeted last year after agents struggled for years to combat what has become a multibillion-dollar industry.

 

The IRS says the number of victims dropped by 46 percent, to 376,000. These taxpayers had their identities stolen by criminals who used their Social Security numbers and birthdates to obtain fraudulent tax refunds.

 

The IRS stopped nearly 1 million fraudulent refunds from being issued last year. The agency says they totaled almost $6.6 billion.

 

The IRS credits a new partnership with major tax preparers and state tax agencies who now share information about potential threats and scams. The agency has also beefed up its computer filters to better detect potentially fake tax returns.

 

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