Identity Theft is Bad, but Free Identity Giveaways?

The IRS doesn’t have a clue how to deal with the identity theft issue.

How do I know this?  Read on….

On April 16th, 2012, I went home and retrieved our mail from the mailbox.  Included was a letter from the Internal Revenue Service.

Opening the letter, it was obvious it wasn’t for me, as it was addressed to someone unknown to me, and further, the last four digits of the individual’s social security number were also unknown to me, or any member of my family.  But it was clearly addressed to my home.  It is important to note that in the correspondence, the IRS only provided the last four digits of this individual’s social security number.

Reading on, the letter indicated that this person’s refund was being delayed, as the IRS wanted to perform a “more thorough review.”  Frankly, it appeared to be tax return identity theft, as it was clearly addressed to my home, and further, the IRS obviously suspected something, as refunds are normally just issued without delay.  Taking it a step further, the name appeared to be Hispanic, and members of the tax community should already be aware that residents of the island of Puerto Rico are prime targets for tax return identity theft of late.

I wrote to the IRS, attaching the letter.  The goal was to 1) notify the IRS of the incorrect address, and 2) warn the IRS that as a result of the clear use of my home address, this may be a case of tax return identity theft.  As we reported earlier, this is now a multi-billion dollar “industry.”

Usually, when writing the IRS, they will respond with a courtesy letter, which basically says “Thank you for your correspondence, and we will get back to you within 45 days” or words to that effect.  In fact, I did receive that communication.  The only problem is, it was still addressed to the unknown individual.  I am the one who wrote them!

But that isn’t the bad part.

The bad part is, the “we’ll get back to you” letter referred to above also had the entire social security number of the individual in question.  This is an incredible breach of the identity of an individual, who more likely than not, in my opinion, has already been a victim of identity theft!

To rephrase.  I believed an individual may have been subject to identity theft.  As such, I followed up and notified the IRS, who “thanked” me by providing me the full social security number of the person who I believe was the victim!  In a nutshell, that is what transpired.

I put a package together to Commissioner Shulman, in the hopes that the IRS can address an astonishing security weakness in their correspondence system.  Interestingly, I did receive a letter from the Commissioner’s office, which indicated that someone would be contacting me to discuss the matter.  I am looking forward to that.

Maybe, just maybe, our “little office that could” is helping to close a potential breach of security at the Internal Revenue Service.  We’ll keep you posted.

The entire chronology, with sensitive information omitted, can be seen below.

Commissioner Shulman Package

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