Less than three years ago gang members stopped Bruce Parton while he was on his delivery rounds, and shot him dead. Parton was a Florida civil servant who had worked for 30 years and was to retire in a matter of weeks. He wasn't driving an armor truck full of unmarked bills to a bank, he was driving a postal service vehicle and was delivering mail.
David Adams, a writer for Reuters.com, says that the gang of criminals wasn't interested in taking off with Parton's bag of birthday cards and phone bills. They wanted the keys to residential mail boxes in the area. By breaking into the neighborhood mailboxes, the gang was able to steal tax return information from individuals, file fraudulent tax returns, and then steal the return that was intended to go to the tax payer. It's called tax identity theft and it's a crime that has grown to become a serious problem in the U.S.
The U.S. Treasury Department reports that more than 1.2 million tax fraud cases were reported in 2012, whereas only 48,000 had been reported in 2008. Another issue that is troubling officials in Tampa and other affected cities, is that tax identity theft gangs are more violent than Medicare fraud criminals. These ID theft gangs, who were first discovered by Tampa police in 2010, were found in hotel rooms filing fake tax return claims on their laptops, says Florida congresswoman Kathy Castor.
The rapid escalation of this crime has caused security company CEO's like LifeLock's Todd Davis to offer the IRS a special tax identity theft protection technology. Presenting a plan that would allow the Tempe, Ariz.-based company to join forces with the IRS’s electronic filing system, Davis says that it would be LifeLock's job to provide the IRS with a score to show if the tax refund claim has a low, medium or high risk of fraud, reports AccountingToday.com. Davis said he would like to extend his companies' technology and services to the IRS because he has seen this crime grow so much within his own customer base.
The IRS is increasing the number of agents who are focusing on tax fraud cases to 3,000 in an attempt to resolve the cases that have been reported. The efforts of these agents prevented $20 billion in attempted tax refund fraud last year, said IRS commissioner Steven Miller. The IRS realizes that they must press on further in their efforts, as they already have a backlog of over 300,000 cases of reported tax fraud, that was committed against tax payers who never received their tax return and Miller says that these cases will be addressed, but will take at least 6 months to be resolved. It is yet another reason why you should always file early, and protect your valued private information.