IRS Investigates Tax Identity Theft and Refund Fraud

Written By Thomas Ahearn

ESR News BlogLess than a week away from the tax filing deadline on April 15, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the IRS Criminal Investigation started 295 new identity theft investigations since this filing season began in January 2014, pushing the number of active identity theft cases to more than 1,800. An announcement about the investigations – part of a larger effort by the IRS to combat identity theft and refund fraud – is available at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Intensifies-Work-on-Identity-Theft-and-Refund-Fraud;–Criminal-Investigation-Enforcement-Actions-Underway-Across-the-Nation.

“Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen stated in the announcement. “The investigative work done by Criminal Investigation (CI) is a part of an aggressive effort by the IRS to combat this issue on all fronts. We are making substantial progress in refund fraud protection, and the work by CI highlights the important steps we are taking.”

The IRS initiated approximately 1,492 identity theft related criminal investigations in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, an increase of 66 percent over investigations initiated in FY 2012. Direct investigative time applied to identity theft related investigations as well as prosecution recommendations, indictments, and those convicted and sentenced for identity theft violations have increased dramatically since FY 2011. The IRS continues to battle tax identity theft and refund fraud and more information about enforcement efforts is available on the IRS main identity protection page at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection.

The IRS is not alone in battling identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced identity theft topped the list of national consumer complaints for 2013 and that U.S. consumers reported losing more than $1.6 billion to fraud overall. The FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) Data Book 2013 found that 290,056 of the more than two million complaints received – 14 percent – were identity theft related. The CSN report is available at http://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-january-december-2013/sentinel-cy2013.pdf.

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Employers need to protect the personal information of job applicants from identity theft and fraud when conducting employment background checks while hiring. Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– is a nationwide provider of background checks accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). To learn more about background checks, visit http://www.esrcheck.com, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email sales@esrcheck.com.