From the Louisville Courier-Journal:
The Indiana Department of Revenue has sent out letters notifying some taxpayers that their individual income tax refunds will be withheld until they fill out anew identity confirmation quiz on the state website.
The state requires those who receive the letters to type in their Social Security Number, refund amount and correctly answer three of four questions aimed at preventing identity theft, according to the letter, provided to The Courier-Journal by an elderly woman who declined to be identified for this story.
Those who don't have Internet access or who need help otherwise can call the revenue department, (317) 233-1642.
The woman initially refused to fill it out, fearing it was a phishing scam.
Some of those who serve elderly Hoosiers agreed.
"That sounds like a scam up and down," Angela Marino, aging and disability resource center manager for LifeSpan Resources in New Albany.
Marino got an email Tuesday confirming it was not a scam from Nancy Stone, Senior Medicare Patrol program director with the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging, after Stone first heard of it from a reporter.
But a January press release from the state Department of Revenue confirms the letter is part of a program the state started this year in conjunction with research firm LexisNexus.
"The identity protection program is a way the Department of Revenue is proactively protecting the identities and refunds of our Hoosier taxpayers," Department of Revenue Commissioner Mike Alley said in the January 15 statement.
The state cited federal Justice Department statistics that shows identity theft resulted in more than $24.7 billion in financial losses nationwide in 2012. And more Americans' identities were stolen in tax-refund crimes during the first six months of last year than in all of 2012, according to the release.
The department release goes on to state that Indiana "will be using the automated identity verification services of LexisNexis to help confirm the identities of all Hoosier taxpayers due a refund in 2014. Information will be submitted to the LexisNexis identity verification database. It is expected that more than 90 percent of all returns will be verified as a result o this process."
The identity-confirmation letters are "an additional level of protection" sent to some selected taxpayers, who themselves are not considered suspects of identity theft, department officials said.
To learn more about identity-theft protection, go to Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's website, www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2853.htm.