Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), a U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) watchdog, has described tax refund identity theft as “a growing epidemic.”
According to TIGTA, more Americans had their identities stolen in tax refund crimes during the first half of 2013 than in all of 2012. The watchdog group says that about 1.6 million Americans had their identities stolen in the first half of this year. This is up from the 1.2 million stolen during 2012. TIGTA also says that while the number of identify theft claims have risen, the government has lost less money to these crimes in the past few years. Potential fraudulent tax refunds were the cause of the government losing $3.6 billion in 2011. This is down from 2010, when the government lost $5.2 billion to these types of crimes. More and more identity thieves are starting to work from outside the country and the IRS claims that these “scammers” are using “constantly evolving tactics” to commit identity theft, reports Reuters.
The IRS has a team of 3,000 employees that work on identity theft issues.