SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Jason Chaffetz tried to file his federal income tax return this year only to find out someone beat him to it.
Like millions of Americans, the Utah Republican was the victim of identity theft.
"I went to file an electronic return and somebody already posted under my name and my Social Security number," he told the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards Monday.
When Chaffetz's accountant in Orem submitted the return electronically, the IRS informed him that it had already been filed. Chaffetz said he and his wife had to fill out another form and then deliver the return and the check to the IRS office in Ogden.
"I owed money, so I just sent my tax return in the good, old-fashioned way," he said.
The scam is simple: Somebody steals your identity, files a bogus tax return in your name before you do and collects a refund from the IRS. It's costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
"The IRS has shown a total ineptness in their ability to secure Social Security numbers and root out this fraud," Chaffetz said.
Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is using the incident to add fuel to his call for the firing of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
The congressman asked President Barack Obama last month to remove Koskinen, saying he has obstructed congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups. Chaffetz said not only has Koskinen ignored a congressional subpoena but has shown an inability to manage a large organization and protect sensitive data.
"There has to be a better, smarter way to authenticate who somebody is. Social Security numbers are floating out there everywhere," the congressman said.
Chaffetz said the banking industry has figured out how to safeguard personal information but the federal government is usually "pathetic and slow in their response, and we're going to push them to giddy-up and get going."
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