Identity Theft

New Low: Fraudster Steals Disabled Woman’s Identity

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An Ohio couple is grappling with identity theft, after they discovered someone had filed a fraudulent tax return in the name of their disabled daughter.

Had Marla and Cecil Conrad not received a letter from the state Department of Taxation, they may have never known about the fraud, because their daughter doesn’t file taxes. Kiley Conrad, 26, was born without eyes or optic nerves, she cannot walk and she has the cognitive function of a child, a Cincinnati TV station reports.

The Department of Taxation contacted the Conrads because they needed more information on Kiley’s return, which was filed jointly with the name James Ponder. Unlike many other victims of tax fraud, Kiley hasn’t been cheated out of a refund, but the situation is still serious, because it means Kiley’s personal information, including her Social Security number, has been compromised.

Tax fraud is the most common form of identity theft, and it can be difficult to detect, especially when it involves children or other people who don’t or can’t file their taxes. Identity theft was the most common complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission in 2013, according to a report released in February, and of those complaints, 30% were tax- or wage-related, the largest category of identity theft complaints.

The IRS has increased the number of employees focused on identity theft issues, but it’s still very much up to consumers to protect their private information and lead damage control efforts if it is stolen. By monitoring your credit scores regularly, which you can do for free on Credit.com, you can watch for unexpected drops in your scores, which could be an indicator of identity theft. Additionally, you should check your credit reports for free once a year (here’s how you can do that) for any items you don’t recognize, because someone can create fraudulent accounts if they have your name and Social Security number.

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