I recently came across an article on yahoo news, which left me flabbergasted. It explained that one home in Florida was the recipient of more than $1 million in refunds by filing 741 false income tax returns. This is a whole different level of tax fraud that goes way beyond fibbing on charitable donations or not reporting some cash income.
This is stealing identities at an unprecedented clip. Some of the identities stolen were children and dead people and others innocent, unsuspecting citizens. In total, the Inspector General’s office found that in Miami, Florida alone, 75,000 bogus returns were submitted with the perpetrators receiving $281 million in refunds.
This article left me with two thoughts:
One – why can’t the IRS catch these thieves before they give out millions of dollars in false refunds when they are supposed to have sophisticated computers that match up all sorts of income data. Why can’t they do this with social security numbers?
Second – it left me with a sense of vulnerability that my identity could be stolen!
I did a quick Google search to find some pointers on how to protect myself and found that they were not too enlightening. You have to protect your social security number, check your credit reports often, shred all documents containing personal information, and put a halt to pre-approved credit offers. There are also many websites dedicated to this idea for a fee that may be worthwhile if you are extra paranoid, but I haven’t reached that level yet.