10/18/2012 01:08 pm ET Updated Feb 13, 2014

Alvina Pryor, 93-Year-Old Illinois Woman, Receives $4,000 Tax Refund After 6-Month Delay

Alvina Pryor has really had it with the Internal Revenue Service.

"I want to put the government on a slab and slice them into little pieces," the 93-year-old told the Chicago Tribune, describing how she felt after waiting six months for her tax refund from the IRS.

Pryor, who lives in Hickory Hills, Ill., filed her federal tax return on time in March, but it took them until Monday to process the $4,006 she deserved to get back, the Tribune reported. Pryor struggled through three rounds of frustrating phone calls with IRS customer representatives, who said they thought her identity may have been stolen.

"I was thinking, just send me the damn money and I don't care about identity theft," Pryor told the Tribune.

It wasn’t until Pryor wrote a letter on Oct. 8 to Jon Yates’s “Problem Solver” team at the Tribune and Yates’s team contacted the IRS themselves that Pryor’s case received the attention it deserved and her refund was finally released.

Unfortunately, Pryor's struggle isn't unusual. The IRS has seen a massive jump in tax scams, in which fraudsters steal a victim's identity and file a fake tax return in order to claim the victim's tax refund. An attempt to crack down on tax fraud has delayed legitimate refunds for Pryor and many other Americans who rely on the money.

While the government agency successfully blocked 262,000 fake returns in 2011, it failed to prevent 1.5 million potentially fraudulent tax returns from being processed, resulting in a loss of more than $5.2 billion, CNNMoney reported.

In one of the agency's more embarrassing slip ups in 2010, the IRS issued over $1 million in refunds to a single home in Belle Glade, Fla. where a staggering 741 tax returns had been filed from.

There are things you can do to help prevent identity theft. The IRS states on its website that you should never dole out personal information via email to anyone claiming to be associated with the IRS. Taking extra precautions with your social security number is also crucial -- if stolen, a thief can use that number to get a job and report income. For more tips to keeping your identity secure, click here.



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