BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Tax season is the time of year that identity theft is most common, and officials say it could happen to anyone.
Michael Johnson says he realized someone had stolen his information when he went to file his taxes.
"Whoever has my information and using my name, they can get everything in my name," Johnson said.
He never imagined his identity would be taken, and he says he can't sleep at night knowing his information is in someone else's hands.
"Whoever has my identity right now is completely ruining my life," Johnson said.
Officials say most victims don't realize their identity has been stolen until it's too late, and the information won't necessarily be used right away.
Brunswick County Detective Ed Carter says these cases are hard to prosecute.
"Trying to track that breach down sometimes is very difficult, but we do get fortunate enough sometimes to where we can make an arrest. But…the arrest is more the rare form, than it is the norm," Carter said.
Tips on how to protect your identity:
• Choose a tax preparer wisely; avoid those who claim they can get you a larger refund than another preparer
• Keep your social security number and individual taxpayer identification secure
• If your information is located on your home computer, change your passwords regularly and update anti-virus software
If you think you're a victim of identity theft, contact your local law enforcement office.