Published: Nov 08, 2013 5:53 PM EST
Updated: Nov 08, 2013 6:21 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Crooks made quite a profit off you this year. Identity thieves stole about $3.6 billion in fraudulent tax refunds just this year. And there were plenty of victims in Southwest Florida.

Cape Coral's Rosanne Falduti was one of the lucky ones, because as soon as she found out that her identity was stolen, she went into damage control to limit the thieves' access to her credit.

Even so, Falduti said the whole experience has been a nightmare so far, "Can you imagine had I not known that that return was rejected they could have gotten more and you have that debt that's following you for the rest of your life?"

Falduti said she filed her tax return on October 14th through E-Fax, which accepted it at first, but later turned it down.

"When I questioned why it was rejected, I was told someone had used my social security number to file a fraudulent tax return," said Falduti.
   
And that started a whirlwind of phone calls to the IRS, to Social Security and a number of other government agencies and then she locked her credit accounts with the three credit agencies and says her credit score is still excellent, but she still has a long wait for her refund.

Falduti said, "They have to launch an investigation and it can take up to 180 days. So, I don't see my return for 180 days. Tthat burns me up because number one I work very hard and I needed that money to get a new mattress and now I have to wait," said Falduti.

Faldutti said she still doesn't know how her identity was stolen.

She warns everyone to do whatever they can to protect their identity even if that means paying a service to monitor their credit.