It was just a little over two weeks ago that I complimented the IRS for actions it was taking in regard to resolving the claims of victims of income tax identity theft as announced in a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Unfortunately, a newly issued TIGTA report about employment related identity theft found the IRS is doing a miserable job of protecting innocent victims of this type of fraud.
Employment related identity theft occurs when someone steals your Social Security number for purposes of getting a job. The victim does not generally learn about the crime until they are notified by the IRS that they did not include all of their income on their income tax return. The recent TIGTA report found that the IRS’ procedures for both identifying the phony returns filed by the identity thieves and its procedures for helping the victims whose Social Security numbers had been stolen and used were seriously lacking. In particular, TIGTA concluded that 548,968 victims of this type of crime were not being properly helped by the IRS.
TIGTA made seven specific recommendations to the IRS as to steps it should be taking, including developing procedures to notify parents of children whose Social Security numbers had been stolen and used for employment related identity theft, however, the IRS did not agree with five of the recommendations, leaving victims in danger and with less help from the IRS than they should receive.
The best thing that anyone can do to protect themselves from becoming a victim of identity theft is to keep your Social Security number as private as possible. Don’t give it as an identifier to anyone or any company that asks for it unless you are legally required to do so. For example, your doctor or dentist does not need your Social Security number although many ask for it. The more places that have your Social Security number, the greater your risk of identity theft.