United States

Identity theft tax refund fraud gets a response from FinCEN


In a July 13, 2015, news release, the U.S. Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a Geographic Targeting Order (GTO) for South Florida that will improve the identification requirements for customers cashing federal tax refund checks in the jurisdiction. This is a welcome response to the increasingly sophisticated schemes that the thieves use to conduct their crimes. The GTO requires check cashers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to obtain and record additional identifying information about customers cashing tax refund checks over $1,000. This includes the customer's identification, a digital photograph of the customer taken at the time of the transaction, the customer's phone number, and in accordance with Florida law, the customer's thumbprint."

FinCEN issued the GTO in close coordination with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the southern district of Florida. The issuance of the GTO enables FinCEN to partner with law enforcement in attacking stolen identity tax refund fraud, said FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery. By doing so "the Treasury Department has put a roadblock in the path of those who would steal another person's identity. This GTO will make it difficult for these criminals to reap the rewards of their actions and the end result will be fewer losses to the U.S. Treasury and taxpayers." said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS-CI.

Check cashers in the affected jurisdictions will be subject to the GTO requirements from Aug. 3, 2015, through Jan. 30, 2016; a time period that represents a particularly high level of fraudulent tax refund transactions.

For more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft, read our article, What to do if you are the victim of tax identity theft.


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