The Internal Revenue Service has launched a nationwide crackdown on identity thieves committing tax refund fraud.
The agency last week announced a coast-to-coast effort in 32 states and Puerto Rico against 389 identity theft suspects that led to 734 enforcement actions in January, including indictments, complaints and arrests. The January crackdown, a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Justice and local U.S. Attorneys' offices, began as the IRS opened the 2013 tax season.
"As tax season begins this year, we want to be clear that there is a heavy price to pay for perpetrators of refund fraud and identity theft," said IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller. "We have aggressively stepped up our efforts to pursue and prevent refund fraud and identity theft, and we will continue to intensely focus on this area."
In addition to the criminal actions, IRS auditors and criminal investigators have visited 197 money service businesses to ensure these businesses are not assisting identity theft or refund fraud when they cash checks. The compliance visits occurred in 17 high-risk places identified by the IRS covering areas in and surrounding Birmingham, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego and Detroit.
To help taxpayers, the IRS has a special section on IRS.gov dedicated to identity theft issues, including YouTube videos and tips for taxpayers.