Buchanan Bill Cracks Down on Identity Theft
Bipartisan Measure Safeguard Secure Social Security Numbers
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, announced today he has introduced bipartisan legislation to protect Americans from identity theft by keeping Social Security numbers off common federal tax forms.
“This bipartisan, common-sense measure will protect Americans from identity fraud by limiting the use of Social Security Numbers on the most popular tax forms, including the W-2,” said Buchanan, a senior member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. “We must be doing all we can to end this growing problem, which hits seniors especially hard.”
The Taxpayer Identity Protection Act (H.R. 3568) would allow employers to use an identifying number other than a Social Security Number on Form W-2. This form includes information such as an individual’s earnings and taxes withheld. H.R. 3568 will affect virtually all working Americans, as an employer is required to issue a W-2 to any employee earning at least $600 per year.
Buchanan pointed to a recent report from the Department of Justice which found that 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014. These victims include 2.6 million senior citizen victims, up from 2.1 million in 2012.
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 Federal Trade Commission (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.
Buchanan has long advocated for the need for increased safeguards to protect Americans from identify theft.
Earlier this year, President Obama signed Buchanan’s Veterans Identification Card Act into which allows veterans to prove their service with a simple, standardized ID card instead of carrying around their official military records. These records contain sensitive personal information including social security numbers that leave veterans at a higher risk for identity theft.
Buchanan has also introduced the bipartisan Senior Fraud Prevention Act with Rep. Ted Deutch, D-FL, which cracks down on scams targeting seniors such as fraudulent sweepstakes, charities and investments. Florida is a hotbed for these types of crimes, topping all states in the percentage of seniors 60 and over.