In Elberton northeast Georgia, almost 100 of its occupants got a big shock after filling their federal tax returns. They innocently gave out all their identifications to strangers who made them believe that they were going to qualify for the government stimulus funds only later realize that they were fraudsters. This was revealed when the income tax forms could not be filled after Internal Revenue Service refused realizing that the victim’s social security numbers had been used before.

The Internal Revenue Service says that in 2010, 48,966 cases worth of $247 million of fraudulent returns and 261,982 cases worth $1.4 billion of returns in 2011 could not be processed after the frauds were discovered. In a span of 4 years, more than 404,000 taxpayers have been victims of identity theft and this has been mostly caused by the agency’s holes found in the electronic filing system that made the thieves enter without getting noticed. The Internal Revenue Service’s and the Justice Department’s Tax Division conducted investigations in January in 23 states. They targeted 105 suspects who were mostly believed to be in California, South and Southwest.

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In their defense, the Internal Revenue Service’s through their spokesperson Julianne Fisher Breitbeil said that the steps they had undertaken from the past year to reduce tax return included scam cases, educating the taxpayer, training their staff, partnering with law enforcement agencies and use of new filters. Forty-nine of the fraudsters apprehended stole identities from family tree websites and used tax filling software in order to apply for refunds.

Tax return theft is just an example of Identification thefts as others include illegal use of credit car, illegal access to bank and saving accounts and phony identifications of dead people that are created for refunds. The main reason that makes the search for tax return fraudsters complicated is the fact that about 10 million people relocate annually with hundreds of thousands getting married, divorced or changing jobs. The other reason is that tax return is paid before the fraud is discovered because the IRS never checks tax return forms against W-2 forms up to when the tax return checks will go out. 

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