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AG tackling surge in identity theft cases

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The Department of Revenue & Taxation has reported that hundreds of island residents have fallen victim to identity theft from their bank accounts being zeroed-out to being told they owe thousands of dollars to the IRS. And now it appears the Attorney General's Office is getting involved as well.

"Immediately the first thing I thought of was a scam," detailed Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas, referring to the hundreds of cases recently reported of island residents falling victim to identity theft. "We've received a number of reports either through our investigators and I've personally spoke to some taxpayers who unfortunately who had to go through that."

Rev & Tax deputy director Marie Benito said over 300 cases were reported these past few months of identity theft where island residents were receiving notices of levy saying they owe tens of thousands of dollars to the IRS. The reported cases comes just a few weeks after the AGO hosted a law enforcement summit on identity theft training with the FBI and the formation of an Identity Theft Task Force. "This particular one seems to have started fairly recently and because it involves a legit or posing as a legit entity as the IRS, this is something we wanted to tackle as one entity, one group," Rapadas added.

And while people can also go the FBI or the IRS, Rapadas wants island residents to know that they also can go directly to his office, a place he hopes becomes a "clearing house" for all documents on the matter to be compiled. And where Rev & Tax called the matter a "growing epidemic," Rapadas says "it's a serious concern." He added, "But because of this particular scam, it seems to me that many Guam citizens are being hit and a lot of it is linked to our social security numbers, and the first three numbers, so it looks like the thieves out there are looking for different ground and unfortunately they found Guam as one of the areas."

A meeting recently took place to go over assignments the task force would tackle. Rapadas hopes to have Rev & Tax, the IRS and the Guam Police Department as part of the team, a team of which have already found themselves more closely involved then they'd wish.

"It's non-discriminatory and I can tell you members of the task force, have been hit also, or they at least they've received the same sorts of notices," he said.

AG Rapadas says he hopes to meet with Rev & Tax and the IRS in the next few days. In the meantime, you can call the AG's Consumer Division. Should you have a report of identity theft at 475-3324, Extension 3320 or check out their website at GuamAG.org
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