WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has signed into law a new measure designed to safeguard the Social Security numbers.
Congressman Vern Buchanan's "Taxpayer Identity Protection Act," rolled into the tax extenders bill, would allow employers to keep Social Security numbers off the most commonly used tax form, the W-2, which is a prime target of identity thieves.
Buchanan R-Sarasota waited until the beginning of tax season to announce his measure was signed into law.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) every employee who makes more than $600 in a year receives a Form W-2, which they must file with their tax returns. Recent reports indicate that thieves are stealing these W-2s from people's mailboxes to help them file fake returns and fraudulently claim tax refunds. Recent reports indicate that thieves are stealing these W-2s from people's mailboxes to help them file fake returns and fraudulently claim tax refunds.
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Buchanan's bill takes millions of Social Security numbers out of circulation. Employers will be able to list only the last four digits of the number on a W-2.
Buchanan is urging the IRS to issue necessary guidance so employers and employees can use this provision immediately to protect workers from identity theft.
Identity theft topped the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) national ranking of consumer complaints for the 15th consecutive year.
Treasury Department officials have testified before Congress warning that senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to tax-related identity theft where criminals file false tax returns using a victim's Social Security Number. Seniors are attractive targets because they are more likely to have a "nest egg," to own their home, and have good credit.
According to the FTC, Florida has the highest per capita rate of identity theft. Of the cities with the most identity theft complaints in 2014, 9 of the top 20 are in Florida. The FTC reports that more than 800 people in Sarasota, North Port and Bradenton logged complaints last year, earning the area the 39th spot on the agency's list.