your information is stolen it can be time consuming, freighting and downright
aggravating. Identity Theft crimes have
skyrocketed since the invention of the internet.
Theft also comes in the form of tax crimes and the Internal Revenue Service and
the Justice Department announced this week the results of a massive national
sweep cracking down on suspected identity theft perpetrators as part of a
stepped-up effort against refund fraud and identity theft.
Working with the Justice Department’s Tax Division and
local U.S. Attorneys’ offices, the nationwide effort targeted 105 people in 23
states. The coast-to-coast effort took place over the last week and included
indictments, arrests and the execution of search warrants involving the
potential theft of thousands of identities and taxpayer refunds. In all, 939
criminal charges are included in the 69 indictments and information related to
In addition, IRS
auditors and investigators conducted extensive compliance visits to money
service businesses in nine locations across the country in the past week. The
approximately 150 visits occurred to help ensure these check-cashing facilities
aren’t facilitating refund fraud and identity theft.
effort against identity theft sends a strong, unmistakable message to anyone
considering participating in a refund fraud scheme this tax season,” said IRS
Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We are aggressively pursuing cases across the
nation with the Justice Department, and people will be going to jail. This is
part of a much wider effort underway at the IRS to help protect taxpayers.”
Department is working closely with the IRS to investigate, prosecute, and
punish tax refund crimes committed through the theft of identities,” said
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco of the Tax
Division. “Now, more than ever, we must remain vigilant against the
unauthorized use of identification information to defraud the U.S. government.”
effort is part of a comprehensive identity theft strategy the IRS has embarked
on that is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases
as soon as possible. In addition to the law-enforcement crackdown, the IRS has
stepped up its internal reviews to spot false tax returns before tax refunds
are issued as well as working to help victims of the identity theft refund
law-enforcement sweep started last week across the country, reflecting
investigative efforts stretching back months and even years.
Beyond the criminal actions, the IRS enforcement personnel
conducted a special sweep last week and on Monday to visit 150 money services
businesses to help make sure these businesses are not knowingly or unknowingly facilitating
identity theft or refund fraud. The visits occurred in nine high-risk places
identified by the IRS covering areas in and surrounding Atlanta, Birmingham,
Ala., Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Tampa and Washington,
In addition, the
IRS has more than 250 check-cashing operations under audit across the country
and will be looking for indicators of identity theft as part of the exam
from these audits and compliance visits will be used to assist continuing IRS
investigations into refund fraud and identity theft.
The IRS also is
taking a number of additional steps this tax season to prevent identity theft
and detect refund fraud before it occurs. These efforts includes designing new
identity theft screening filters that will improve the IRS’s ability to spot
false returns before they are processed and before a refund is issued, as well
as expanded efforts to place identity theft indicators on taxpayer accounts to
track and manage identity theft incidents.
To help taxpayers,
the IRS earlier this month created a new, special section on IRS.gov dedicated
to identity theft matters, including YouTube videos, tips for taxpayers and a
special guide to assistance. The information includes how to contact the IRS
Identity Protection Specialized Unit and tips to protect against “phishing”
schemes that can lead to identity theft.
Disclaimer: Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of the tax information provided in this blog. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional tax advice based on your individual needs.