"The deadline to file taxes is right around the corner — and so, too, are criminals waiting to defraud honest taxpayers, like Michael," Brown said. "Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in our country, where increased access to information for consumers also means increased opportunities for criminals — so it's no wonder that stealing identities to fraudulently obtain tax returns and refunds is turning into an epidemic."

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The Identify Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act, S. 1534, was introduced last year by Sens. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonBottom Line Bottom Line Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (D-Fla.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenators take fundraising efforts to Nats playoff games Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds DEA allowed more opioids even as overdose deaths rose | Judge temporarily blocks Georgia abortion law | Three states report more vaping deaths | Dem proposes new fix for surprise medical bills During impeachment storm, senators cross aisle to lessen mass incarceration MORE (D-Ill.). The bill would increase penalties for tax fraud, give victims of identify theft unique PIN numbers to use on their tax returns, and let people opt out of having to file their returns electronically. The bill also increases IRS resources for tax fraud prevention.

Brown said tax fraud is on the rise in northeast Ohio, and said prisoners are filing fraudulent returns that cost taxpayers millions in unjustified refunds.