It's hard to keep up with the privacy-threatening shenanigans at the Internal Revenue Service, but let's give it a try. Just days after revealing that the tax agency's failure to follow its own rules put the private data of 1.4 million people at risk, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration publicized the sentencing of Tax Examining Technician Missy Sledge for aggravated identity theft and mail fraud, and IRS employee Monica Hernandez for making and subscribing a false income tax return, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
According to the Inspector General's Office, "as part of her official IRS duties, Sledge had access to taxpayers' personal identifiers, including names, Social Security Numbers (SSN), dates of birth, and addresses, as well as information about tax professionals. Sledge used this access in furtherance of an identity theft scheme which included the filing of fraudulent tax returns and the subsequent theft of refunds."
For her part, "Hernandez regularly handled and processed tax returns on behalf of the IRS by entering taxpayers' tax information into the IRS computer system. During the course of her IRS employment, Hernandez stole tax information in order to file fraudulent tax returns and claim large tax refunds."
Sledge received 57-months imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release. Hernandez got 53-months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised probation. Both have to pay restitution to the IRS.
But that was last month. This month, we hear about former IRS employee Taylor Knight who "inappropriately accessed information maintained by the IRS for three taxpayers, in each case for her personal reasons and not for official Government business. The defendants then used the identifications of these three taxpayers to fraudulently induce the IRS into issuing tax refund payments."
Knight hasn't ben sentenced yet, but faces up to five years in prison.
Again, IRS records prove themselves to be a bonanza of personal information for identity thieves who trawl through the less than securely maintained data looking for a dishonest payday.
Have I mentioned that people signing for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act are supposed to update the government on any major life changes, including marriage status, employment, finances…? Oh wait, yes I have.
I wonder if that information will be better protected.