A growing number of people who work for the city of Homestead are finding themselves victims of identity theft, as strangers send in their income tax paperwork to get their refunds.
In just one day the number of ID fraud victims jumped from 28 to 49, including one police officer, several civilians within the police department and four retired city employees.
“We do have some in Parks and Rec, we do have some in different parts of the city,” said Detective Fernando Morales of the Homestead Police.
None of the victims are within just one department, making it harder to pinpoint an origin of theft, so far.
“This is a relatively new thing going on. It’s just been happening in the last couple years and I’m sure the federal agencies are trying to do something about it,” Morales said. “But we’re just a small town. Can you imagine reporting these types of frauds and it is occurring all over the United States.”
Florida is one of several states enduring an explosion of income tax identity theft – and Miami-Dade and Broward counties among the highest number of cases.
In just two years, Internal Revenue Service records show, the number of cases the tax agency investigated nearly doubled from 187 in 2009, to 224 in 2010, to 276 last year.
In 2011 someone stole the identities, and refund money, from a large group of students and faculty at a South Florida technical college.
Morales suggests calling the IRS at 1-800-908-4490 if you want to check whether your ID has been stolen, even before you file.