Identity Theft & Tax Refund Fraud – a National Epidemic

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Identity theft used to be something that happened to other people. But today, you could be one of the ”other people”…all because it’s tax time. Today’s fraud comes from a CBS Miami story, but it really could have come from anywhere. And that’s the point of the story? identity theft and tax refund fraud are a ”national problem” that we can’t afford to ignore. (Don’t kid yourself, this is a national epidemic)

The article starts by addressing the issue in Florida, noting that a recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report says that South Florida has had more identity theft occur than anywhere else in the nation. But it quickly focuses on the broader problem, (Here’s the ugly part) citing figures from the General Accountability Office (GAO) that show a sharp increase in ”tax refund complaints” related to identity theft. In 2008 the federal government had 52,000 tax refund complaints and two years later that number had increased to 250,000 per year. Now the numbers are startling? the FTC says it receives 50,000 identity theft complaints per week. (Let’s take a quick look at this? 2008=52,000, 2010=250,000, and 2012=2,500,000. This is about 50 X growth in four years. Companies dream of this type of growth. Criminals are actually getting it, and it’s with YOUR money.)

The U.S. Attorney for South Florida described how serious the issue has become, stating? ”It is now an epidemic…It is viral, it is spreading not only here in South Florida, but throughout the country. And we’re dealing with hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions of dollars of loss, to the IRS and to the government.”

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Feds call identity theft and tax fraud an epidemic,” published by CBS Miami on February 28, 2012.

MIAMI (CBS4) – It’s a national problem that could be leaving millions of taxpayers wondering this tax season, what happened to their refunds. And nowhere is it a bigger problem than in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale metropolitan area.

According to a Federal Trade Commission report just released, South Florida had more complaints about identity theft than any other place in the United States in 2011.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.