S Florida Arrests: Stolen Data Used For Tax Return Fraud

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Two men in south Florida were arrested recently on charges of stealing sensitive documents from the Pembroke Pines Social Security Administration office.  Their goal was to use the information on the stolen documents to file false tax returns, stealing the refunds from hard-working taxpayers just like you and me.  While it's fortunate that these two thieves were caught, their arrest will do little to stem the tide of tax fraud in south Florida and around the country.

Miami federal prosecutors claim Jean LaFrance, 28, of N. Miami paid Carlos Orozco, 18, of Pembroke Pines, a volunteer at the Social Security Administration Office in Pembroke Pines, for stolen data including; names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. Law enforcement officials say that LaFrance would then use the stolen data to file false tax returns on the internet directing the IRS to deposit the refuns onto Green Dot debit cards sent to Orozco or other specified addresses.

While tax fraud is a major problem everywhere this year, south Florida has been especially hard hit by scammers and thieves.  According to the FTC and law enforcement officials, Florida has ranked at the top of the nation for identity theft, and other types of identity fraud, for several years now, and unfortunately it doesn't look like this trend will be fading away anytime soon.  Whenever identity thieves figure out a new way to steal from honest consumers, it's almost a given that they'll be doing it in Florida --and S Floridians should take particular note: S Florida is leading the nation's largest metro areas in reports of identity theft, according to the latest FTC stats released today. 

Most victims of tax return theft don't even know that their information has been compromised until they receive a letter from the IRS stating that a return has already been filed with their personal information.  The victim has to fill out an affidavit to prove their identity, then they have to file a police report and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.  Once all of this has been done then the IRS will begin investigating the claim, a process that is supposed to be completed within 90 days.  When the fraudulent return is finally proven to be fake, the victim then has to file another return so that it can be processed by the IRS.

Perhaps the worst part is that even after you discover that someone has already filed a tax return in your name and you've jumped through all of the hoops to report the theft, it can take significantly longer than 90 days for you to get your refund.  According to J. Russell George, the US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, it can actually take up to 18 months for a tax fraud case to be resolved and for you to get the money that's rightfully yours.  Think about that for a moment...what if you planned to use that refund check to pay your property taxes, auto insurance or even pay down your debts? If you were to file a complaint today and start the process of getting your return, it might take until somewhere around September 2013 for you to get the money you were expecting.
Given how many people have come to depend on their tax refunds to make important purchases or just to help keep them afloat during uncertain times, having a tax return stolen and possibly facing an 18-month wait to have the issue resolved can be absolutely devastating.  This is why I encourage you to file your tax returns as early as possible, since this will help you to beat the scammers and will have the added benefit of getting your return to you faster. Identity theft that involves your SSN, can affect your life in a number of ways and worse; take years to recover from

The IRS says Taxpayers who believe their refunds may have been stolen should contact them as soon as possible. You can contact them at: 1-800-908-4490

As Insider identity theft and tax return fraud complaints continue to rise, so too, do our risks Our best defense --is a good offense. Stay informed of the latest threats, have a plan of action ---and before opting to sign up for any one of the many id theft protection services on the market today, do your homework. Sort through the multitude of big marketing campaigns and even bigger promises to find the real deal. Then, and only then, can you make an informed decision based on your needs. It's true; the devil is often in the details;  you must sort through them to find the best protection and the best practices

Visit the The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) for steps to take if your tax refund has been stolen.  



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1 Comment

Stealing tax refunds is not okay. We work hard and count on the tax refund to pay a needed bill. So, the IRS should ensure payment! But, their methods of payments don't work. So, let's use a different method to eliminate the problem of theft. I'm petitioning for the refund payment to be able to be credited against your current withholding tax payment so the taxpayer will receive the refund in their paycheck. This benefits taxpayers! Support me at:



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