For victims of identity theft, it doesn’t take long to discover the problem is way bigger than one person. It involves government agencies and a bureaucracy that is difficult to maneuver and even more difficult to understand. It may involve dealing with multiple law enforcement agencies, some that may be unwilling to investigate the case and really don’t have to. It involves hours on the phone and computer, filing reports, clearing records, making inquiries and trying to find help.

And, of course, the stealing of identities, especially the illegal use of Social Security numbers, is part of the huge issue of immigration, which the federal government has yet to address in any comprehensive way.

Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo., said more needs to be done to address the crime of identity theft and assist victims, and help stop the illegal use of stolen Social Security numbers. There needs to be better ways for employers to check if Social Security numbers are legitimate or if they have been stolen. E-Verify, an Internet-based system that allows an employer to determine the eligibility of an employee to work in the United States. Right now, using E-Verify is voluntary, Markey said, and is limited to new hires only.

Markey hopes the government can work to encourage more employers to take part in the system. She said there have been improvements in the system, like requiring many employers who have federal contracts or subcontracts to use E-Verify.

A report issued by the University of Denver last week calls for permanent implementation of E-Verify. “Employers need a much better way to know if someone is in fact authorized to work in the United States,” said University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton, who sat on the 20-member panel that issued the report.

Another problem is the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service are not, by law, allowed to communicate. So, if a victim gets their work record cleared of income obtained by the identity thief, the IRS doesn’t know, and will still claim that income on the victim’s taxes. “There needs to be more coordination between the Social Security Administration and the IRS,” Markey said.

But, ultimately, the solution to the illegal use of Social Security numbers could be addressed through immigration legislation, especially if the bill includes a guest worker provision that would make it easier for workers to temporarily enter the country on work visas.

Markey said that it is expected a comprehensive immigration bill will be introduced early next year that will address not only border security, but will include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and a plan to allow guest workers into the country.

Despite a full plate including health care reform and the struggling economy, Markey said she is confident Congress will address immigration reform next year. “I’m not sure when, but we are going to get to it,” Markey said.

SOURCE

Advertisements