Data breaches and identity theft continue to impact both businesses and consumers significantly. This year alone (as of November 2, 2018), there have been 1,027 data breaches which exposed over 57,667,911 million records. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also reported in their March 2018 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book that they received 1.1 million reports of fraud and 371,000 reports of identity theft in 2017.Read More
In today’s world, it’s not uncommon to see headlines about a new instance of fraud many times a week. Whether it’s a new phishing scam targeting seniors or the arrest of a low-level employee embezzling small amounts from a local government office, most fraud-related issues are interesting to the public regardless of their profession. Since anti-fraud professionals are on the front line of fraud prevention and investigation, it’s also predictable that family and friends may turn to you for clarification of these fraud-related stories.Read More
Robert K. Minniti, CFE, CPA, CVA, CFF
On July 7, King5.com reported that King County officials entered two charges of felony identity theft against Gary Wayne Bogle. According to Washington man charged with felony ID theft, by Danielle Leigh, Bogle used his brother's identity to obtain free health care and attempted to avoid a criminal record in his own name. His brother ended up with false convictions and a destroyed credit because of unpaid hospital bills fraudulently entered under his name.
Financial identity theft occurs when someone misappropriates your personal information to open new accounts, or uses your existing bank or credit accounts to make purchases. The above case shows a newer type of identity theft — criminal identity theft — that's spreading across the country and can be even more damaging than having a criminal destroy your credit rating.
Historically, criminal identity theft meant a criminal would obtain a driver's license or state identification card using the victim's information, including their photo. The criminal would provide this identification to police officers when they were pulled over for a traffic stop or while being arrested for a crime. They'd sign for the ticket and then miss the court hearing. Or they'd be arraigned and released pending trial and then miss the trial. Because no one appeared in court, the judge would issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the victim, whose stolen personal information was used by the actual criminal.
Often the victims of this type of identity theft find out about the crime when they're arrested or terminated from their job because of an outstanding warrant. They also might struggle to find employment because some companies conduct pre-employment background checks on job applicants. Take, for example, aCalifornia woman who was detained six times by law enforcement, arrested four times, spent 20 days in jail on no-bail warrants and even had her children removed from her care by child protective services — all because she was a victim of criminal identity theft.
Read the full article, and find out tips for protecting yourself from criminal identity theft, at Fraud-Magazine.com.
ACFE Public Relations Specialist
After finally buckling down and finishing your taxes, you may feel a sense of accomplishment and start thinking about how you will use your return. However, that feeling can turn into panic and confusion the minute you receive a notice from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that your filing has been rejected, as a return has already been filed using your social security number. You now realize that you’re a victim of tax fraud and identity theft.
Although the IRS has recently met with leaders of private sector firms, state auditors and major providers of electronic tax software in an effort to help prevent identity theft, they are fighting fraud of a formidable size. A report published in 2015 from the Government Accountability Office estimated that the IRS paid out $5.8 billion in 2013 for tax returns that were later determined to be fraudulent.
There are ways to prevent becoming a victim, such as filing your taxes as early as possible and using licensed software with strong anti-virus protection. If you are a victim, however, in spite of efforts to protect yourself, the biggest question is what to do next.
The IRS recommends that first and foremost, you immediately contact them by calling any number provided on the notice of rejection of your filing. Next, you will need to complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. They will direct you to prove your identity, which you may do over the phone or by going to IDVerify.irs.gov. To make the process as smooth as possible, Turbo Tax suggests that you have your tax return from the prior year along with supporting documents such as W-2s or 1099s on hand. Once you've filed a complaint with the IRS, they warn that it usually takes an average of 180 days for the case to be resolved, however, most taxpayers should be able to receive their refund after that period of time.
You should receive a PIN from the IRS that can then be used for future reference to your case. As tax return fraud is also identity fraud, it is a good idea to also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and to contact credit reporting agencies to place a freeze on your credit reports. It’s unfortunate, but now that you’re aware that someone has your personal identifiable information, you must be extra vigilant about your credit and accounts going forward. Identity thieves may choose to sit on your information before using it, or may sell it to a multitude of buyers who can continue to try and use it for years to come.
Although the IRS, private sector firms and U.S. Congress continue to try and develop tools and practices to thwart fraudsters, tax return fraud will likely remain a reality for millions of Americans each year and should be dealt with as swiftly as possible to prevent long-term damage to credit.