By JAVIER MANJARRESThe interconnected crimes of identity theft and tax fraud are reaching epidemic proportions as more and more Americans are falling prey to fraudsters’ scams that are increasingly targeting the elderly.
Tax fraud and identity theft are issues that all affect people regardless of political affiliation. On a personal note, I have been the victim of two instances of credit card fraud in the past three weeks, as someone was able to scan my debit credit card. Thankfully, my banking institution was able to flag the transaction and halt the attempted fraudulent charges.
So what is the federal government doing to safeguard Americans from identity theft? In August of 2010, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) co-sponsored a bipartisan “bill is aimed at addressing the problem of tax return identity theft by strengthening criminal penalties and increasing the prosecution rate of tax return identity thieves.” Florida Senator Marco Rubio has also been outspoken on tax fraud and has addressed this issue through his senatorial office-
Our office holds mobile office hours to educate constituents on ways to avoid this problem, and our constituent services team helps constituents deal with this issue when it comes to dealing with federal agencies. – Alex Burgos, Communication Director for Senator Marco Rubio
According to Wasserman Schultz, Florida is the state with the “most identity theft complaints in the country,” and that that the IRS have associated $5.8 billion with “fraudulent tax refunds involving identity theft.”
Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz recently held a legislative town hall meeting at the YMCA in Pembroke Pines to specifically address her constituents about the increasing instances of federal tax fraud that are occurring throughout the country as Americans file their tax returns with the federal government.
Along with Wasserman Schultz, a spokesman from the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) was on hand to also give the town hall attendees some pointers on how go about protecting themselves from identity theft and to announce that the BSO had recently conducted Operation “Shark Tank” which was specifically set up to nab identity thieves. On March 12, 2013, Operation Shark Tank caught five alleged identity thieves in a sting operation that was carried out at an undisclosed location.
The idea with any safety measure, the idea is to throw obstacles in the path of the person who is trying to get your personal information. – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Wasserman Schultz concluded the town hall by poking a little fun at herself by telling the story about how she used to be one of those women who carried “everything” including a “big wallet with no money” in her purse that would weigh down and “kill” her shoulder.
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