The Norman Transcript

Opinion

February 12, 2013

Identity theft is not a joke to IRS

NORMAN — The movie “Identity Thief” was a Box Office hit this weekend. It’s a comedy about a man whose identity is stolen and the thief runs up big debts on his credit card.

It’s not a laughing matter, as the Internal Revenue Service’s acting commissioner reminded us in a Transcript interview this past week. Steven Miller said the IRS recently conducted a national sweep that nabbed 389 identity theft suspects in 32 states, including Oklahoma. They opened more than 900 identity theft investigations in 2012.

“It’s one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS today,” Miller said in a conference call interview. “In that fight, we are doing a much better job on all fronts, but we still have much to do.”

Indeed, they do. Most of us have stories or have heard stories from friends who have been the victim of identity thieves. Much of it is random, from thieves taking chances on numbers and passwords.

There are simple steps consumers can take to keep from becoming a victim. Shred receipts and statements. Lock up cards and don’t share passwords with anyone.

In this tax season, the IRS said it is cracking down on storefront operations that may be helping identity thieves cash refund checks that don’t belong to them. That’s a largely unregulated business.

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