JK Harris' Charlie Jones Raises Identity Theft Awareness

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Identity theft is a growing problem. And JK Harris and Company wants everyone to be aware of the dangers.

Charlie Jones, Senior Vice President of Compliance at JK Harris and Company, LLC, says taxpayers need to be aware of the latest trends in identity theft.

"Identity theft has been growing at an increasingly alarming rate," said Jones, a 30-year IRS veteran and former IRS Assistant Regional Commissioner for Collections.

Statistics from a survey commissioned by the Federal Trade Commission in 2006 show the real costs of identity theft:

  • Number of victims: 9.3 million
  • Average out of pocket loss for victims: $371
  • Hours spent per victim resolving the problem: 30

Typically, when identity theft is discussed, it is in regard to credit or bank accounts being the target of an attack.

"What many taxpayers do not realize, is identity thieves are beginning to falsify tax returns using stolen Social Security numbers. In some cases, undocumented workers are reporting W-2 income using someone else's Social Security number, which leads the IRS to believe the person holding the Social Security number has not reported all of their income," said Jones.

According to National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olsen's annual report to Congress, identity theft is a growing problem for taxpayers, as well as the Internal Revenue Service. From 2002 to 2006, cases where a Social Security number was used by someone it did not belong to increased 129%. According to Olsen, during the same period, cases where someone other than the taxpayer filed a return and claimed a refund increased 396%.

Olsen reported the IRS is currently studying the development of a centralized unit to handle identity theft cases. The unit would include a special hotline, available to taxpayers that believe they are victims of identity theft. According to About.com, the hotline is scheduled to be available in October 2008.

According to Jones, taxpayers that have been victims of identity theft may receive a notice from the IRS showing back taxes, penalties and/or interest are owed. Often this comes as a shock to the taxpayer.

"It is important to contact a tax professional to assist you. Chances are, you are eligible to claim "Doubt As to Liability" through an Offer in Compromise," Jones said.

For more information on preventing identity theft, visit the IRS' website at http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=136421,00.html or http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=136199,00.html.

About JK Harris:
JK Harris & Company, LLC, (http://www.jkharris.com) based in North Charleston, S.C., is the nation's largest tax resolution firm and has served over 225,000 customers since its founding in 1997 by John K. Harris. JK Harris consultants are available to meet with consumers in over 425 locations nationwide by appointment only. The company also provides services for student loan debt, fee-based financial planning, tax return preparation, and audit representation.

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