Identity thieves are craty and quick. Expose one o their schemes, they move on to the next.Scripps Howard News Service reporter Isaac Wol discovered an unexpected and enormoussurge in the latest illegal tricks --- stealing tax reunds and scamming ree medical care -- with acombination o dogged reporting and intense data research.Using the Freedom o Inormation Act, Wol analyzed more than 1.4 million complaints o identity thet and shared his results with Scripps Howard television stations and newspapersaround the country. ogether, they pinpointed the neighborhoods targeted by thieves and thelatest techniques used to steal identities. Te Scripps team ound that, or completely dierent reasons, the hotbeds o identity thet areBrownsville, exas, and Brooklyn, New York.But the real surprise was that thets o tax reunds had tripled rom 2005 to 2009. Te victimsonly realized what had happened when they tried to claim legitimate tax reunds and ound themoney had been sent to someone else. In one elaborate scheme, crooks in Belarus used a ake tax-preparation service to generate phony returns and steal the reunds. Wol also discovered how thieves are taking advantage o health privacy laws to steal medical care.In response to the stories, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-NJ, began working on legal changes to allow people to fx their own health records. Tree months ater the Scripps stories ran, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., called on the IRS to tightensaeguards against tax-reund thet and better assist victims who must wait months -- sometimes years -- to get their rightul reunds. Wol’s reporting also caught the eye o producers at ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer, which aired a national segment March 29 on tax-reund thet based on his fndings. We believe that Isaac Wol’s reporting will help shut down these types o thets. Surely, the IDthieves will move onto other scams. Wol will be right behind them.
Editor & General ManagerScripps Howard News Service
NEWS SERVICESCRIPPS HOWARD
About the Identity Teft special report