For years, Congressman Joe Garcia had all his financial information publicly posted as part of his campaign filings. Now he said that as a result he has been a multiple victim of identity theft.
“You have to understand this can happen to anyone,” the Miami Democrat explained. “It happened to me.”
Garcia announced on Apr. 15 that he had the support of Florida Republican Congressman Trey Radel who will join him to file a new bill aimed at stopping tax refund identity theft.
The plan calls for the government to stop using easily stolen social security numbers for taxpayers’ confidential identity numbers.
The problem is so bad around South Florida that federal officials say we have the highest tax identity fraud rate in the country. House Democrats still are focusing their reforms on hiking penalties for ID thieves and changing ID numbers on tax documents. But they’re not proposing a rule requiring the IRS to process legitimate refunds to victims within 90 days, or allowing taxpayers to opt-out of electronic filing.
The House plan also fails to propose stopping the IRS’s use of virtually untraceable electronic credit card payments and multiple deposits into bank accounts. Both measures are key elements of the Senate’s current bills.
West Kendall businessman John Simkins had his family’s tax refund stolen last year. It took Congressman Joe Garcia’s staff four months to get through to the IRS to get the Simkins family its money back. Simkins said the IRS was no help at all and added, “It was extremely frustrating. The IRS didn’t tell me anything.”
If you have filed your taxes, but the IRS reports it already has a return with your name and identity number, it probably means your tax identity was stolen along with your refund. Contact the IRS for more information and remember, you’ll still have to file and mail in your legitimate tax return and another new form: A 140-39 identity theft affidavit. For more information, check these websites:
Watch Al Sunshine’s “4 Money Watch” reports Monday-Friday.
You may find Al’s blog at www.cbsmiami.com.