In recent weeks a rash of identity thefts have occurred targeting physicians in New Hampshire, Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina and the District of Columbia. Many of these physicians who have become victims of income tax identity theft as their Social Security numbers were used by identity thieves filing phony income tax returns with their Social Security numbers and collecting refunds based on counterfeit W-2s. Income tax identity theft is a huge problem and a sore spot with me as I don’t think the IRS is taking the one simple, low-cost step that could dramatically reduce this crime. The IRS. as I have told you many times previously, does not compare W-2s in filed tax returns with the real W-2s filed by employers until August, long after they have sent out refunds. Merely comparing the W-2s before sending out a refund would go a long way toward stemming this tide of income tax identity theft in a cost effective manner.
The identity theft of the physicians in the affected states has been traced to various state and national professional organizations, however the precise source of the hacking has still not been determined. Once again, it is clear that regardless of how protective you are of your identity, you are only as safe as the places that hold your personal information with the weakest security.
Whenever possible do not provide your Social Security number to companies, agencies or other entities with which you do business unless you absolutely must do so. Also, monitor your credit report and your financial accounts regularly to become aware of any security breaches as soon as possible. Also, because you cannot control your own security, it is prudent to put a credit freeze on your credit report so that even if someone obtains your Social Security number, they cannot get access to your credit report for purposes of making large purposes. Go to the section on Credit Freezes on the right hand side of this page for information about how to put a credit freeze on your credit reports.