The federal government is cracking down on identity theft. The Internal Revenue Service reported this week that officials conducted a comprehensive sweep across 23 states last week, charging more than 100 people with fraud and ID theft related to filing false returns in order to obtain refunds.
"ID theft is a growing problem all across the country, and we've come to find out that the tax system isn't immune," said IRS spokeswoman Anabel Marquez, according to the Los Angeles Times. "They've figured out that just like they can steal credit card numbers, they can file false refunds." The IRS has also stepped up efforts to prevent identity theft through a variety of new programs aimed at spotting potentially fraudulent returns. Lenders have also been leveraged ID verification
programs to ensure proper credit decisions
and practices. According to the Wall Street Journal, the IRS prevented some 260,000 ID thefts in 2011. The cases would have led to more than $1.4 billion in fraudulent refunds. That figure is considerably higher than the 50,000 thefts and $247 million in fraudulent returns prevented in 2010.