Current, former Weather Shield employees battle identity theft - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Current and former Weather Shield employees continue to battle identity theft


Rusk County (WQOW) - For a third year in a row, employees of a business in Rusk Countyare finding out their identities have been stolen.

Weather Shield is awindow and door manufacturer located in Ladysmith. 2012 was the first yearseveral of the company's current and former workers found out their tax returnshad already been claimed. And it's happening again this year.

"I can't use mysocial security number because another person has used it to file mytaxes," said Caroline Pake, a former Weather Shield employee.

It's a scary situationthat both former and current Weather Shield employees are dealing with. Theyfile their taxes and find out that someone else has already beat them to it, claimingtheir return along the way.

"It's like a pieceof me is gone. You know? They took that from me. And the first thing you worryabout is, what else is going to happen, because you hear so much about identitytheft. And that's what really scares me," said Pake.

There have already been24 cases of identity theft this year in Rusk County.The sheriff's department says all but one of those is related to WeatherShield.

However that is downfrom previous years. In 2012 there were 83 cases and 54 in 2013.

"My guess is theysomehow got into the computer system, tapped this information, and now theyhave it. And they can continue to use it until they get caught," said SheriffDavid Kaminsky of the Rusk County Sheriff's Department.

But catching thoseresponsible is a challenge that has Rusk County and the IRSworking together.

"These people thatrun these scams sometimes are from another country. We can't go to anothercountry, sometimes we don't get cooperation from those countries depending onwhere it's at. So it's a very difficult investigation," added Kaminsky.

The sheriff's departmentsays several Weather Shield employees have been repeat victims. Caroline Pakehasn't worked at Weather Shield for two and a half years. This is the firstyear she may not get a tax return because of it.

"I always use itfor the following year's land tax, stuff like that. Which is now gone. It's justa lot of financial problems going through right now, because my husband isdisabled. So I'm the only one working, and I really counted on that. And ithurts. It does, it's like they just took everything away," said Pake.

            Caroline told us she was given a special pin number fromthe IRS that she will need to use next year when she attempts to file hertaxes. If you believe you might be at risk, call the IRS at 1-(800)-908-4490. Wedid reach out to Weather Shield for comment but didn't hear back. 

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