Few people are unaware of the seriousness of identity theft. Many of us have had clients sit in our office who were very uneasy about releasing their personal information in a way they felt may not be secure. The IRS understands these concerns. They’ve seen the problems that can arise from identity fraud. And they’re taking every precaution to help ensure the safety of taxpayers everywhere.
In fiscal year 2012, the IRS took action against 1,310 suspects of identity fraud. In the first four months of fiscal year 2013, they have taken action against 907 suspects. With such a rapid increase, the IRS is working closely with federal and state agencies to increase the pressure on identity thieves. Those indicted on identity fraud spend an average of four years in custody, though some have or will serve more than 20 years. The IRS wants to be clear that there are serious consequences for those who commit refund fraud and identity theft, and they are taking aggressive actions to pursue identity thieves.
The IRS prevented the issuance of more than $20 billion when they stopped approximately five million suspicious returns before any refund was granted last year. They have made dramatic improvements they believe will now allow them to do an even better job of stopping identity thieves in their tracks this year. They’re attempting to authenticate the identity of the filer at the time of filing so there will be no delay in the issuance of refunds. They have also established an Identity Theft Clearinghouse, a specialized unit dedicated solely to processing and tracking identity theft leads.
Over 3,000 IRS employees have been designated to work on issues of identity theft. They are working to prevent refund fraud, investigate criminal activities, and assist taxpayers who have been victimized by identity thieves. They have trained 35,000 employees to identify theft indicators, and they have sent agents to money service businesses (check cashers, etc.) across the US to help ensure a level of compliance that will help decrease instances of identity fraud.
Simply put, the IRS is serious about stopping identity fraud. They’re also serious about punishing those who attempt it.
By Kenya Hoffart, Freelance Writer