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FTC: Identity theft retains its throne as No.1 worst scourge in Top 10 consumer complaint list

Identity theft leads a bad list compiled from 2 million complaints that includes debt collectors, Internet scams and telephone/mobile services

By , Network World
February 26, 2013 11:21 AM ET

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Another challenge is prosecuting confirmed identity thieves. While the number of cases has obviously grown, the prosecution of these thieves has not even scratched the surface. For example according to the GAO, only 898 cases in 2012 have had formal criminal investigations been instigated. The IRS typically only goes after "the most egregious and significant identity theft cases, as measured by volume and refund amounts," the GAO stated.

An audit of the IRS in 2012 found that the agency stands to lose as much as $21 billion in revenue over the next five years due to identity theft. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which is part of the U.S. Treasury.

The IRS said it has made a significant increase for the 2013 tax season in the number and quality of identity theft screening filters that spot fraudulent tax returns before refunds are issued. The IRS has dozens of identity theft screens now in place to protect tax refunds. These efforts helped the IRS in 2012 protect $20 billion of fraudulent refunds, including those related to identity theft, compared with $14 billion in 2011, the IRS stated.

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Read more about security in Network World's Security section.

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