CIRCLE PINES, Minn. -- Alan Stender is happily retired and spends most of his days piecing puzzles together. He's been working on a difficult one for a while at his kitchen table.
But there's a bigger puzzle he may never be able to solve. Last year Stender was supposed to get a $5,300 dollar tax refund but when he filed he was told someone already did under his name.
"The person who filed under my name got $7,200 tax refund," Stender said.
He called the IRS and filed a fraud report but was told it would take him months to get his money. The problems kept coming.
"We started to get calls and letters from banks that said have you applied for a credit card and we hadn't," he said.
Months went by and he wasn't getting anywhere so he emailed Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Stender said she helped him get his refund last fall. Now they're fighting tax fraud together.
In 2012 at least 2.6 million tax returns were filed by identity thieves, double last year. The Senator hopes the "STOP Identity Theft Act of 2012," will make it harder for criminals.
"Right now there's classic identity theft laws and theft law but we think we need to specifically target this kind of crime so it makes it easier for prosecutors to have tools to go after these thieves," Klobuchar said.
The bill will allow the IRS and Justice Department to go after people who rip off individuals and businesses. It also increases prison time from 15 to 20 years.
Stender believes the proposed law may be the piece he and other victims need to solve the puzzle.
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