DPH investigating cases of identity theft and tax fraud

Published 6:13 pm Saturday, June 28, 2014

By Scottie Brown

The Selma Times-Journal

The Alabama Department of Public Health is currently investigating a string of identity thefts and false tax returns filed for the years 2011 and 2012.

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Samarria Dunson, the privacy officer for the ADPH, said those concerned they are victims of identity theft or tax returns filed in their name should contact the fraud department of Equifax, Experian or TransUnion Credit Bureau to receive the proper proof of stolen identity.

“They don’t need to just fill out that form and send it to the U.S. Attorney’s office. They need to provide that supporting information as well, to say ‘Hey, this is my proof to show that I had a false tax return filed in my name and this my proof that it’s accurate.’”

Individuals affected by the identity theft and falsely filed tax returns should fill out the corresponding forms found on the Department of Justice’s website and ADPH’s website.

The forms and documentation should be sent to the U.S. Attorney’s Office on or before July 31.

The information compromised during the thefts included names, date of births and in some cases social security numbers, Dunson said. Dunson stressed medical diagnosis information or particular reasons for a patient’s visit were not compromised.

“The system that they got the information from doesn’t even have the diagnosis in it, so we know that they didn’t get that information,” Dunson said.

Because a majority of those affected were born in 1995 and 1996, Dunson said the ADPH had put the information not only on the ADPH website, but also social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

“We’ll continue to push that out through those two social media sources,” Dunson said.

“We just want to try and put it in their face as much as possible. We’ll be continuing to do that for a minimum of 90 days.”

Lt. Curtis Muhannad, who deals with fraud for the Selma Police Department, said it was important for those who believed they were victims of identity theft to notify the police department or Dallas County Sheriff’s Department.

“If they find out their identity has been stolen or believe that their identity has been stolen they need to notify the local law firm agency,” Muhannad said. “If they have any documents in reference to the identity theft they need to make copies of those documents and provide them to the investigating officer in reference to the case.”

Identity theft is a Class C Felony in Alabama, and Muhannad said the police department takes it very seriously.

“We use all our resources in identifying the person who has stolen a person’s identity, and we do everything we can to bring that person to justice,” Muhannad said.

Dunson said the ADPH had taken steps to restrict access to their databases since investigation began in early June.

“If you’re working for a health care entity and you need access to these databases in order to do your work that’s just kind of the nature of the healthcare industry, however, we have definitely restricted access in every way that we can just to make our databases less attractive to these types of thieves,” Dunson said.