IDENTITY THEFT EPIDEMIC IN SOUTH FLORIDA
South Floridians are at risk for identity theft. Florida law enforcement receives reports of fraudulent tax returns at an alarming rate. In the last three months, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office has received over 1,000 reports of tax related identity theft. Palm Beach has seen a similar trend. Palm Beach law enforcement have fielded over 1,000 reports of tax identity theft.
Identity theft is not a new threat to Floridians, but the incidence of identity theft has increased since last year. The Sun Sentinel reports, “It was bad last year — now it’s obscene,” said Ronald Myers, a certified public accountant. Tax related identity theft in South Florida has increased by almost 10% since last year. The FTC has identified the Miami metropolitan area as the number one city for the incidence of identity theft. In 2011 alone, Miami, Broward and Palm Beach accounted for over 17,000 reports of identity theft.
U.S. Representative Wasserman Schultz announced tax-refund identity theft legislation and plans to introduce the bill to legislatures in Washington. The Sun Sentinel reports, Shultz said, “The federal government must become more vigilant in stopping tax-related identity theft.” Wasserman Schultz’s bill, is named Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting Identity Theft Act or STOP IT. The bill includes a minimum of two years in prison for each fraudulent tax return filed with the IRS. Another bill now before Congress that Wasserman Schultz is co-sponsoring would remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.
Have you been a victim of tax fraud or identity theft? Consumers have rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Federal law gives consumers the right to a free credit report because of fraud or identity theft. The FCRA requires credit bureaus such as Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, to block fraudulent information in your credit report within four business days of receipt of your dispute and identity theft report. For more information about identity theft rights, contact FCRA attorney Micah Adkins 24/7 at 1-800-263-9091. Or, use the contact form below.