04/19/11 Last Thursday, Congressman Joe Donnelly joined Congressman Thomas Petri (WI-6) in introducing The Social Security Identity Defense Act designed to help identity theft victims. Currently, when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) learns of a stolen Social Security Number (SSN), they do not alert the victim. Also, the IRS does not notify the FBI so they can pursue the individual who broke the law. To fix this, Donnelly and Petri’s bill would require the IRS to inform taxpayers when the IRS learns their SSN has been stolen and to better coordinate with the FBI and relevant law enforcement agencies.
“The IRS’ current practices regarding identity theft are an unacceptable status quo,” said Donnelly. “On behalf of the millions of Americans who are victims of this crime each year, we must make common-sense changes. That is why I am proud to introduce this legislation with Congressman Petri today. This is an opportunity for a federal agency to catch identity thieves in the act and let victims, possibly unaware, know that their SSN has been stolen. In the case of identity theft, government can and should work better for the people.”
“One of my constituents discovered that his Social Security Number was being used by an undocumented worker who had employed this personal information to gain work in the United States,” said Petri. “Troubled by this disclosure, he contacted the IRS to notify the agency of this identity theft. He was astounded to learn that the IRS already knew of the situation – and that they had known for some time. When he asked why the IRS did not inform him that his identity had been stolen, the IRS responded that they were legally required to protect the privacy of the identity thief. Americans want a crackdown against identity theft, but unfortunately, the IRS believes it cannot be a part of this fight.”
The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 9 million Americans have their identities stolen every year, often used to obtain employment by those without SSNs. The IRS does not currently inform a taxpayer when the agency learns of the fraudulent use of that taxpayer’s SSN due to its interpretation of a law designed to protect the privacy of individual taxpayers.
To change IRS policy to better work for American taxpayers, The Social Security Defense Act would make three, common-sense changes to current policy:
- First, the legislation would require the IRS to inform a taxpayer when his or her SSN has been used fraudulently to gain employment.
- Second, the bill would provide that the IRS then share this information with the FBI and allow the FBI to make the facts available to state and local law enforcement agencies.
- Finally, the legislation would require the IRS to ensure that a fraudulently used SSN could not appear on a W-2 statement.