According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in 2008 the IRS found 52,000 cases of identity theft. Last year that number jumped to 245,000. And the scary news is most experts expect that number to be much higher due to the delay associated with reporting these crimes. The cases typically involve individuals either using false social security card numbers to collect another person’s tax refund or to avoid paying taxes all together. The IRS is somewhat hamstrung in terms of what they can do to help consumers. The agency has set up a special unit to assist tax-payers, but the responsibility falls squarely on the individual to protect their social security number. If the IRS suspects identity theft, laws prevent the agency from disclosing the perpetrator’s identity to the taxpayer being cheated, or even, in some cases, to federal authorities. Should more be done and what can you do protect yourself?
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