Identity theft of the deceased is a problem which we have written about before. It’s one that can be prevented by taking some simple steps. However, the U.S. Treasury Department recently announced a new, lucrative reason to steal and use the identity of a deceased person – tax identity fraud.
How does this work? Using stolen names and Social Security numbers, thieves are filing phony electronic tax forms to claim refunds. According the U.S. treasury department, this is a huge problem that could cost our country $21 billion over the next five years. The number of cases nationwide has skyrocketed from 48,000 in 2008 to more than 1.2 million in 2012.
It is a very troubling problem since, unlike Medicare fraud, it is associated with violent crime and armed gangs. All a gang needs is your name and tax ID number. They can make up the other details needed to complete a tax form.
To prevent this from happening, the IRS is trying to speed up the loading of data from W-2 payroll forms issued at the beginning of the tax season, a time lapse which gives thieves time to file using false data.
They are also looking for ways to authenticate the identity of tax files at the time of filing and are working with the Social Security Administration to limit access to a registry of Social Security data of deceased tax payers, the Death Master File. This File is often a target of fraud since Social Security numbers currently become public record 90 days after someone dies.
To learn more about identity theft of the deceased and find out how you can prevent the identify of a loved one from being stolen, go to http://diesmart.com.
In the 1900’s, death often took place in someone’s home with loved ones nearby. Now, as more people are living longer and lifestyles have changed, death often occurs in a hospital overseen by trained staff. The resulting increase in the cost of dying has raised serious issues related to the current American health care system.
The National Institute of Medicine, the health branch of the National Academy of Sciences, recently announced that “given the rapidly changing environment for health care delivery, punctuated by the landmark passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and the twin imperatives of improving the quality of health care while controlling costs, the time is ripe for a new examination of how individual values and preferences can be aligned while assuring compassionate care focused on the needs of individuals approaching death in an affordable and sustainable manner.” “…the matter of death and dying has become a political as well as an ethical, moral and societal one.”
The Institute said that it is pulling together a panel of experts to tackle this critical subject. “Given the importance of death and dying to our citizens and our nation, the IOM plans to examine the current state of end-of-life care with respect to delivery of medical care and social support; patient-family-provider communication of values and preferences; advance care planning; health care cost, financing and reimbursement; and education of health professionals, patients and their loved ones.
The study will also explore approaches to advance the issues surrounding the end of life from a wide variety of perspectives including clinical care and delivery, resources and workforce, economics, spirituality and compassion.”
On January 29th and 30th, the National Academy of Sciences also hosted the first National Summit on Advanced Illness as part of their effort to find ways for people to get good end-of-life care.
As our society ages, end-of-life care – how to afford and sustain it – becomes a critical subject. To read more, go to http://www.diesmart.com/.