For Lori Weeks, coping with the loss of a child was compounded by overcoming that child’s identity theft.
“I think the most disturbing thing is that there are people out there who are waiting for children to die so they can steal their identity,” Weeks told WMUR News 9. Her 7-year-old daughter Madison died in a car accident.
When Lori and her husband tried to file their income tax return, the last on which they could claim Madison as a dependent, they learned that her Social Security number had already been used to claim a tax refund.
In fact, it had been used three times.
Weeks requested copies of the fraudulent returns but the IRS refused.
The bereaved couple turned to Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. According to a written release from her office, “On May 7, Ayotte wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and urged the agency to provide tax-related identity theft victims with copies of fraudulent returns, which the agency had refused to do, citing privacy concerns.”
IRS Change Impacts All ID Theft Victims
On Thursday, May 28, Sen. Ayotte and Lori Weeks got the response they had been seeking. Commissioner Koskinen wrote, “As a result of your letter, we have decided to change our policy regarding disclosure of fraudulent identity theft returns to victims whose name and SSN the fraudulent return was filed under...We will put together a procedure that will enable victims to receive, upon request, redacted copies of fraudulent returns filed in their name and SSN."
Sen. Ayotte is pleased with the change, “Victims of identity theft face significant emotional and financial hardships, and they shouldn't be left in the dark about the extent of the theft. This is a positive step that will help them protect themselves and their families."
For Lori Weeks, the damage is already done, “It was a kick in the gut. It was grief on top of grief.”
But she hopes that her efforts will spare other families the same grief.