U.S. Sen. Mark Warner provided a variety of useful resources and an online form on his Senate website for Virginians who have been victims of tax ID theft to contact his office for assistance in receiving their tax refunds in a timely fashion.
A new link prominently posted on Sen. Warner’s homepage provides a variety of relevant resources to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft, and advice on how to resolve issues with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) so that legitimate taxpayers who have been victims of identity theft are able to receive their tax refunds. The Senator’s resource page also includes a form for Virginia constituents to use to seek additional help from his office if they have been the victim of tax-related identity theft.
“I hear from individuals nearly every day who either have been victims of ID fraud this tax season, or else they know someone who’s been victimized. Unfortunately, this con is extremely easy for criminals to pull off – all scammers need is a victim’s Social Security number and name to file a fraudulent return and claim a fake refund,” said Sen. Warner. “As data breaches exposing the personal information of consumers have become more frequent, the number of these cases has soared. Often, this fraud is only discovered when honest taxpayers try to file their taxes and claim their tax refund, only to be denied by the IRS – an issue that can take months to clear up. Many Virginians can’t afford to wait that long to receive the refunds they are counting on to pay their bills. We all – public sector, private sector, consumers – have to do more to protect individuals’ personal information and prevent identity theft.”
Tax-related identity theft typically happens when a scammer files a forged tax return using a taxpayer’s Social Security number to claim a refund. When the real taxpayer attempts to file his or her return, the victim receives a message that a return has already been filed – which can lead to significant delays before the real taxpayer is able to clear up the problem and claim the refund to which they are entitled.
About 2.9 million incidents of tax-related identity theft occurred in 2013 – up from nearly 1.8 million in 2012, according to a report from the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. As a result, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers experienced significant delays in receiving their refunds. The inspector general’s report noted that such fraud hurts “the ability of innocent taxpayers to file their tax returns and timely receive their tax refunds, often imposing significant financial and emotional hardships.” The inspector general found that, in fiscal year 2013, it took the IRS an average of 278 days to resolve a case of identity theft and issue the correct refund.
On April 16, the day after the federal income tax deadline, Sen. Warner pressed the IRS about procedures in place to help taxpayers who have been victims of identity theft, and what might be done going forward to proactively alert taxpayers identified as possible victims of identity theft. That followed on the heels of an earlier letter from Sen. Warner, who wrote the IRS Commissioner on February 18 questioning the agency about its processes for preventing tax-related identity theft and for notifying taxpayers and law enforcement when the IRS identifies a case of potential fraud.