The theft of taxpayer identities has become an epidemic that is out of control. It is unfortunate that it receives less attention than credit card information loss. Taxpayer identity theft is costing the US government billions of dollars as scammers find the IRS an easy target.
While credit cards are not mandatory, tax return filing is. You would think that the government would invest in the protection of taxpayers’ identity to ensure that scammers do not file tax returns of deceased individuals, minors, etc. It makes no sense. On the other hand, employers are not protecting their customers’ private information. In the meantime, medical assistants at nursing homes steal the identities of patients, and prison guards steal the identities of inmates.
According to the Treasury Department’s inspector general, 1.6 million taxpayers were affected by identity theft last year, compared with 271,000 for all of 2010. Eventhough the IRS has discovered many of the incidents, the end result was Billions of dollars in fraudulent refunds. The IRS claims that they have improved its ability to detect identity theft. However, the statistics do not support this claim. Remember that numbers do not lie. If I tell you that I stopped eating Twinkies and I am losing weight, you should be able to see it when I get on the scale and you see my weight going down. The number of taxpayer identity theft related scams has increased every year over a four year period (2010 – 2013).
What to do if you are a victim of tax-related identity theft
The best thing you can do is immediate action, contact the IRS immediately. Specialists will work with you to get your tax return filed, get you any refund you are due, and protect your IRS account from identity thieves in the future.
1. Contact the Internal Revenue Service. IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit 1-800-908-4490
- Report the fraud.
- Send a copy of your police report or an IRS ID Theft Affidavit Form 14039 [PDF] and proof of your identity, such as a copy of your Social Security card, driver’s license or passport.
2. Update your files.
- Record the dates you made calls or sent letters.
- Keep copies of letters in your files.
3. Other Steps to Repair Identity Theft