Monday, May 18, 2009

Stolen Identities

About a week ago, I received a letter from El Departamento de Hacienda (the local Puerto Rican tax department) informing me of the amount of my tax refund. On the letter, they included my entire social security number, bank account, and routing numbers. Needless to say, I was in utter disbelief. Puerto Rico has had many cases of stolen identities, but yet the local government doesn't seem to take this issue very seriously. I can just imagine the hundreds of thousands of letters which were sent out by Hacienda with everyone's personal information on it. If just one of these letters fell into the wrong hands, which obviously happens, someone can easily commit identity fraud.

One of the most common ways in which someone can steal your identity is by stealing your mail. Just a few weeks ago, several people on the island were arrested for committing identity fraud. This group went around the Guaynabo and Bayamon areas and stole people's correspondence from their mailboxes. Approximately 150 people became victims of identity fraud. It is suggested for people to get a free annual credit report, just as a precaution method to make sure all your loans and credit card accounts are in good order. For more information on identity fraud, please visit the Federal Trade Commission's Website.

2 comments:

RayInPR said...

That's pretty funny (and sad). But you have to remember that a social security card is considered an acceptable form of ID here (even though the card says "not for identification purposes" right on it).

When we first moved here and were opening our bank accounts, the bank rep was really surprised that I refused to have my SSN and driver's license number (she wanted me to put both!) printed on the checks along with my address.

Joan said...

I submitted my tax form by April 15 of this year. I am still waiting for my refund. I have been to el Departamento de Hacienda no fewer than 7 times and have enlisted the help of the Ombudsman's office.

It is now January 24 and I have still not received my refund. Nobody has the same answer, though the status quote on the automated line was finally changed to form completed on December 7.

After enlisting the help of the Ombudsman's office, I actually received, via eMail, someone else's completed return containing birthdays, Social Security numbers and bank information. When I reported this, it was unacknowledged.

Most recently, I have been asking my friends if they know people at el Departmento de Hacienda to see if they can can help me locate where my refund is in the process. Yesterday, I was told that someone can help get me my money in three weeks, providing I pay them an under-the-table percentage of my refund.

I am apalled by the lack of effieciency and corruption here. The whole process is extremely frustrating and I'm worried that when I file this year's taxes, I will have additional problems because I will have two returns in the system.

Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to resolve this?

Thank you.