Thursday, March 23, 2006

IRS Plan to Sell Your Data Lead to Identity Theft?

IRS-Plan-to-Sell-Your-Data-Lead-to-Identity-Theft-audio-post - click to play

[Time sensitive special alert]

In what many consumer advocates consider to be a
very dangerous threat to individual American's
privacy, partial or even entire tax returns data
would for the very first time be eligible for
sale to 3rd parties.

The IRS has quietly moved forward with a plan to
drop the shields to the once unthinkable....your
tax filing data would now be eligible to be sold
by tax preparers and accountants to data brokers
and marketers.

Sidenote, Choicepoint is a data broker
(of 50,000)
which actually sold
confidential consumer data to

identity thieves for years but was not
publicly disclosed until last year leading to
the largest fine on record by the Federal
Trade Commission (FTC).

In what was labeled* within the Federal Register
as "not a significant regulatory action", the
proposed change in rules* would become effective
1 month after a final version is published.

All that would be required, once these regulation
changes take effect, would be for you to sign a
consent form authorizing your tax preparer to
release your tax filing data to whomever will
pay the highest price.

In a letter last Tuesday to IRS Commissioner
Mark Everson, an Illinois Senator warned that

"once in the hands of third parties, tax
information could be resold and handled
under even looser rules than the IRS sets,
increasing consumers vulnerability to
identity theft and other risks."

"There is no more sensitive information than
a taxpayer's return, and the IRS's proposal
to allow these returns to be sold to
third-party marketers and database brokers
is deeply troubling," Senator Barack wrote.

We would add, especially by(H&R Block) and
to firms (Choicepoint) with a past history
of exposing consumer's personal information
to identity theft fraud.

So while the FTC has attempted to put some
teeth into enforcing consumer's identity
theft privacy rights, Congress and other
agencies such as the IRS evidently have a
different agenda in mind with these proposed
changes and recent legislation in the House
that would loosen tougher state level laws
designed to protect consumers from identity
theft fraud.

Especially in the way these latest changes
were only publicly announced 1 day before
being made available within the Federal
Register. That announcement then started
a 90 day count down window whereby public
feedback could be sent to the IRS.

Effectively, with April approaching, that
window of opportunity for consumers to
voice any commentary is quickly coming to
a close.

For those living within the Washington, DC area
a public hearing on the proposed regulations has
been scheduled for April 4, 2006 at 10 a.m in
the auditorium of the I.R.S. building on
Constitution avenue.

So, our tip for today is merely a reminder for
you to seize control over your own information
as much as possible. When your tax preparer
asks you to sign the forms this year, scrutinize
carefully any new consent forms requiring
signature to release your confidential
tax data
to third parties.

This may very well be the optimal time to exercise
your right to "opt out" from your tax filing data
becoming available in the public domain should the
proposed IRS regulation changes take effect.

Special End note:

Share this article with a friend so they may too get their
very own, anonymous tips for identity theft prevention.


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