NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Those expecting a New York State tax refund may have to wait longer for their money.

State officials say they are trying to prevent fraud, but some taxpayers say something seems fishy.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, if you’d like happy tax returns, file early.

Hempstead resident Harold Gibbs told Sanchez that advice has proved to be less than successful. His federal return came right away, but his New York State return is still missing.

“Everybody I speak to it’s the same situation and nobody can figure out why,” Gibbs told Sanchez. “We’ve called the agencies, and nobody can give us a direct answer. We’re just in limbo right now.”

CBS2 demanded answers from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

“From our perspective, I’d be hesitant to classify it as a delay,” spokesperson James Gazzale said.

The state says a longer wait for a refund is the new norm. New fraud and identify theft measures rolled out last year, including requiring a driver’s license number when filing state taxes, have increased the time to process a return.

Gazzale, however, could not tell CBS2 the average time a taxpayer can expect to wait — from the time they file until they receive their refund.

“These measures of protection for taxpayers and to prevent us from paying out fraudulent refunds is now a part of our processing stream,” he said.

“I don’t believe it one bit. Why would the federal return it so quick? I don’t believe it,” Gibbs said. “I think that it’s a way for them to either to cut back on giving people their money or something to do with that.”

Accountant Patrick Daly doubts the conspiracy theorists who suspect New York is holding onto refunds for the state’s benefit.

Last year, the state says it stopped more than 405,000 suspicious refund claims, saving New York State taxpayers $560 million.

“The states are trying to do a lot to just protect the taxpayers and combat this fraud, because fraud is rampant in the tax filing area,” Daly said.

“It’s scary, because you feel like you’ve been violated in some way,” Rosanna Michelsen told Sanchez.

She said someone stole her husband’s social security number and cashed in their tax return.

“It took two years to get that back,” Michelsen said. “Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.”

She said waiting a few weeks for a return is a small price to pay for your protection.