PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Close to two dozen UPMC employees have become the recent victims of identity theft.

Their tax information was stolen, and now the IRS is investigating just how far reaching this could be.

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Jackson Hewitt tax preparer Eric Bimber has seen it before.

“A lot of people are having more issues with it. We see more fraudulent returns, returns being rejected from the IRS,” Bimber said. “I feel like every year – there’s more number of people having that issue of having their identity stolen. We hear of security breaches all the time – different companies.”

The most recent company is UPMC, who on Wednesday confirmed that 22 of its employees were victimized by identity thieves.

Officials say those thieves filed bogus federal tax returns with employees’ Social Security numbers, presumably stolen from the victim’s W-2 tax forms, lifted right out of their mailbox.

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“We are aggressively investigating with the United States Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service and United States Postal Inspection Service to determine the root cause,” Gloria Kreps, a spokeswoman for UPMC, said. “At this time, we do not know that this tax fraud is being perpetrated solely against UPMC employees, but believe that it is broader fraud.”

“People that have that instance that we have to let them know that their return is not going through electronically because somebody has filed their Social, typically they’re more upset because they don’t know,” Bimber said. “We don’t know who filed for them, only the IRS would have that information.”

Bimber says after victims notify the IRS fraud department, getting their money back can be a lengthy process of six months or even longer.

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