North Carolina Department of Justice
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Cooper asks IRS not to share info with marketers

Release date: 4/5/2006

Cooper files comments opposing proposed change to IRS rules

Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper has written to the Internal Revenue Service asking it to reconsider its plans to allow tax preparers to share taxpayers’ personal information with marketing companies.

“Taxpayers entrust information to their tax preparers that could wreak havoc if it fell into the hands of a criminal looking to commit identity theft,” Cooper said. “Instead of protecting this information the IRS wants to put it up for sale, putting our personal information at risk.”

In comments sent to IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson late yesterday, Cooper wrote, “The proposed IRS rules could undermine our battle against identity theft” which he called “the fastest growing crime of the 21st century.”

The IRS is considering the rule change at a meeting today in Washington, DC.

Under the new rules proposed by the IRS, tax preparers would be able to sell taxpayers’ information, including their name, address, Social Security Number, dependents’ Social Security numbers, income and employment information, to marketers. Tax preparers would be required to get a taxpayer’s consent before providing his or her information. However, once the information is in the hands of a marketing company, that information could be shared again and again without the taxpayer’s permission.

“A citizen’s tax return is a virtual treasure trove of information to an identity thief,” Cooper wrote in his comments to the IRS. “The government should take the lead in restricting the flow and trade of this type of personal information, rather than expanding it.”

Cooper has long been a leader in the fight against identity theft. Recently, Cooper helped put in place one of the most comprehensive laws in the country to protect North Carolinians from identity theft. The Identity Theft Protection Act minimizes the use of Social Security Numbers as identification numbers, restricts the sale and display of SSNs, and requires business as well as state and local government to better protect consumers’ personal information. The new law also gives consumers another way to protect themselves by placing a freeze on their credit.

This comprehensive new law marks the latest attack against identity theft by Cooper, who first launched his campaign against this fast-growing crime more than two years ago. His efforts have been praised by the Federal Trade Commission as a national model. To learn more about identity theft and steps consumers can take to protect themselves, visit www.ncdoj.gov