NASA employees face second identity theft scare

Stolen laptop, NASA documents could lead to tax fraud

Published On: Apr 01 2013 11:06:21 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 02 2013 06:18:56 AM EDT
ORLANDO, Fla. -

Less than 12 months after dozens of National Aeronautics and Space Administration fire and safety employees had their Social Security numbers stolen a second “potential compromise” has been reported in Washington.

NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Richard J. Keegan Jr., issued a letter to Space Coast employees confirming the theft of “ official NASA documents and a laptop computer” from an employee’s “ locked vehicle.”

According to Keegan NASA learned of the break-in on October 31, 2012. The notice to employees was delivered two weeks ago.

Richard Thomas a fire and safety employee with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, says he couldn’t believe it was happening again. Thomas says he discovered someone else had filed a tax return using his personal identity last year.

He is one of 39 local NASA employees caught in the tax identity web. Thomas’ social security number was used by an imposter who filed for a $12,198 refund.

Thomas says he received a check in his name for the same amount even though he owed the IRS $200.

Union President Kevin Smith says the only common link is applications filed with G4S Government Solutions, the company brought in by NASA to hire fire and safety employees last year.

The company said it investigated and found no security system breach. According to Smith G4S ”did not look for internal problems or an internal mole.”

The October theft is different but the potential damage is the same.

NASA has advised employees that it will encrypt all employee personal information and provided every employee that might be impacted with a year of protection from "ID Experts," a firm that specializes in identity monitoring.

Law enforcement agencies say the TAX identity theft can happen to anyone.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey says tax payers need to check their credit reports several times a year because thieves will collect identifications and then hit” in waves.”

“The national average is 12.7 months before you know you are a victim of identity theft,” Ivey says.

IRS Special Agent Casey Tyska says the agency has ways “of tracing it back to the individual who did it.”

Tyska says the tax Identity thieves range from teens to drug dealers.

“The drug dealers have turned to this (tax theft) as opposed to dealing in drugs only because they get more money and there’s less chances initially of getting caught," Tyska said.

IRS agent Michael Dobzinski says you should immediately contact local law enforcement if you discover your social security number or other personal information has been compromised.

“Identity theft is a problem nationwide” Dobzinski said, everyone should remember never to carry you social security card with you and don’t give your number to anyone over the phone unless you know the source.”

For more information, visit IRS.gov.