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January 16, 2014

State agencies advise on identity theft

INDIANAPOLIS — Identity theft is a problem that increases every year. More Americans’ identities were stolen in tax refund crimes in the first six months of 2013 than in all of 2012.

About 1.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft and tax refund crimes through June 2013, in comparison to 1.2 million in all of 2012, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

To kick off the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week and in time for the 2014 tax season, which begins Jan. 31, the Indiana Department of Revenue and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office want Hoosiers to be aware of ways to best protect themselves from this devastating and increasing crime.

“Tax season is the time of year when taxpayers gather all of their most important personal information into one place, making it the perfect opportunity for fraudsters to easily steal taxpayers’ identities,” said Department of Revenue Commissioner Mike Alley. “Working with the Attorney General, we are educating Hoosier taxpayers on how to effectively protect their identities, their potential refunds and the State of Indiana from potential refund fraud.”

The Indiana Department of Revenue will offer resources for taxpayers to help them guard against their personal information being stolen, while the Attorney General’s Office offers Hoosiers an online ID Theft Protection Toolkit. The toolkit acts as a central hub for taxpayers to check their credit, make sure their identities haven’t been compromised, alert credit companies when appropriate and freeze their credit if their identities have been compromised.

“Identity theft is a year-round problem, but tax season gives criminals an opportunity to use individuals’ personal information and Social Security numbers to file fake tax returns and claim refunds,” Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. “That’s why it is critical for Hoosiers to be on guard – especially while online – to prevent their information from ending up in the wrong hands.”

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