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Identity theft poses tax problems

By D'Ann Dickson
On February 21, 2013

  • SMACK!. Sophomore Brandon Whitby gets a base hit during Tuesday's game.

Tax season is upon us and every college student with any type of income will be (or should be) filing income tax statements to receive that coveted tax return check. Unfortunately, some students and other citizens in America may never see that return or may be delayed in receiving their money.
 Identity theft, named America's fastest growing crime by numerous credible sources such as NBC news and the United States Social Security Administration, has crippled today's society simply because information is more public and electronically accessible than ever before.
 Craig Mazin and Seth Gordon, respectively, wrote and directed a movie adding comedic relief to an otherwise serious and prevalent issue. 
 Identity Theft ranked number one it is opening weekend and received great reviews.
Although the comedy in the movie is enjoyable, the actual effects of identity theft are quite horrifying.
Prairie View A&M University alumnus and certified identity theft risk management specialist David Allen said, "Identity theft in its simplest form is when anyone does anything using your name. It starts with your name, not your bank account, social security or medical information."
There are five types of identity theft: character, where someone uses another's name; medical, in order to get medical coverage; financial, the most common related to; driver's license, in order to fabricate cards and photo identities; and social security, where a criminal uses another's social security number to get a job or gives over to the IRS for a refund.
According to Allen college-age students are at the greatest risk for many reasons.
The high school student who applied to different colleges and scholarship funds has given out information that is now in the possession of those institutions or organizations.
Also, information is stored in different medical, insurance and government databases because young people are beginning their lives on their own.
As aforementioned, the effects of identity theft can be greatly damaging, Allen said.
Law requires car insurance.
Insurance companies are connecting car insurance rates to credit reports but with a low credit score due to someone else's actions, credit interest rates shoot up.
Apartment renting could be hindered or even denied because of a bad credit report.
Even graduate student loan interest rates can become unbearable or the actual principal amount granted could not be enough to cover program expenses.
"[Professionals] tend to view preventing identity theft as very similar to preventing a car accident. You may do all the things that you are supposed to do but someone still might hit you. It is important that you shred your personal info, keep it close and hidden. Keep it locked or in a secured drawer. Sometimes, others have to share info on our behalf and when security is breached, there is a problem. The key is being informed and counteraction," said Allen.
Allen's company specializes in solutions to identity theft and other legal issues.

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