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Utahn in bust as IRS ramps up ID theft blitz

Published February 8, 2013 9:19 pm

Enforcement • Nationwide sweep part of crackdown on tax refund fraud.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Tax fraudsters, beware.

The Internal Revenue Service announced this week that it's turning up the heat on identity thieves. On Thursday, the agency revealed it had taken action against 389 people in January during a nationwide crackdown on tax refund fraud. The sweep included one individual from Utah.

Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller told reporters during a conference call that more than 3,000 IRS employees are working on identity theft cases, more than twice the number in 2011.

"We have taken these aggressive actions because we recognize how serious a problem identity theft is for taxpayers and for the tax system," Miller said. "With the tax filing season under way, we want to be clear that there is a heavy price to pay for committing refund fraud and [for] identity theft."

According to Jared Halper, supervisory special agent with the IRS Criminal Investigations unit in Salt Lake City, no charges have been filed yet against the Utahn allegedly involved in the January enforcement action.

Even as the agency is beefing up enforcement, Miller said the IRS is working to screen false returns before refunds are issued, to the tune of more than $20 billion in fiscal year 2012. He also pledged to help the victims of identity fraud.

"We know we have more work to do, and it's my commitment that we will do everything we can to help victims resolve their cases," Miller said.

If you receive a letter from the IRS stating that you filed more than one tax return or you received wages from an employer for whom you haven't worked, your identity may have been stolen.

If you suspect you're a victim, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 or http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection.

jnpearce@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jnpearce —

How to prevent ID theft

Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse.

Check your credit report every 12 months.

Use firewalls and change passwords frequently on your computer.

Don't give personal information — including your SSN — over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you initiated the contact.