Lawmakers Act to Help Tax ID Theft Victims

More and more people are becoming victims of one particular form of identity theft.

Tax ID theft is exploding. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission said complaints went up more than 2300 percent last year.

And tax identity theft was the most common type of ID theft crime reported. That has lawmakers sitting up and taking notice. At least one is proposing changes that would help consumers.

Amy Doty is one of the of victims. She knew she was in big trouble before she even filed this year.

"I got a letter addressed to me and a crazy name," said Doty. "They needed more information. I knew something was wrong and most likely my identity was stolen."

Doty called her accountant who encouraged her to go in person to see someone at the Internal Revenue Service.

Because of long wait times and too few employees, it took Doty three times to see someone to find out what to do. The phone was no better. Once she was able to get reach someone, she was told to file a form. Then she waited.

Hearing horror stories like these one prompted Senator Robert Casey from Pennsylvania to advocate for new protections.

"It's a nationwide problem," said Casey.

The legislation Casey is backing would force the IRS to tell people if their information has been used in a fraudulent returns. It would also assign consumers a single point of contact at the IRS, who would track an identity theft case from beginning to end. Victims would get expedited refunds. Finally, the legislation would increase the penalties for people caught using someone's information to file fraudulently.

The next step for the legislation will be a committee meeting later this summer. Until then, the IRS has resources for victims of identity theft on its website:

As for Doty, she finally got to file, but not without a lot of headaches. "It's just such a big issue," said Doty. "I just knew it was going to be a nightmare."

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