U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has issued a warning in a video message that Americans are being targeted in ever-larger numbers by tax scam artists.
In the video, Holder said, “Over the last several years, stolen identity refund fraud has affected hundreds of thousands of Americans. In fact, the IRS reported that last year they resolved and closed approximately 936,000 cases involving identity theft victims.”
The IRS named identity theft the most prominent tax scam this year, putting it at the head of its list of the “dirty dozen” tax scams. One of the problems with identity theft is the lapse of time between the actual theft and the awareness of the victim that their identity has been compromised, leading to an expected tax refund not eventuating.
Holder added, “This is an increasingly urgent problem. Its impact can be devastating to families that are counting on legitimate tax refunds that are diverted by identity theft.” He asserted that if the public would file their tax returns earlier, they could preclude criminals from filing the false tax returns first. Holder also insisted that he understood the problem because he had been a target, saying, “Identity thieves can target anyone –– something I saw first-hand last year, when two people attempted to get a fraudulent tax refund using my personal information.”
Identity thieves have been sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison for stealing others’ identities.