SPOTLIGHT on SOUTH CAROLINA LEGAL SERVICES

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SCLS helps Man recover from identity theft

Most of us are aware that from time to time bad things happen. Root canals, bad. Roof needs repair, bad.

Identity theft with the IRS knocking on YOUR door for back taxes on income YOU never saw, hide-under-your-bed bad.

Here’s the scenario:

You enter the USA on a K-1 visa, also known as the Fiancé(e) visa. English is not your first language, but that’s ok, you’ve got some time to learn it. And you marry according to plan and begin working in the USA with a properly issued Social Security Number. You’re not making a lot of money, but you’re in the United States with your new bride. Ah, life is good.

THEN it happens. Your identity is stolen. Someone is using YOUR new social security number. As if that’s not bad enough, they’re reporting THEIR income on YOUR number. AND now the IRS wants YOU to pay income tax on this other reported income.

Where do you turn? What if you’re not making enough money to hire a private attorney?

South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) recently had the opportunity to rectify this very scenario. In 2001, a Spanish-speaking person entered the United States on a K-1 visa, married later that year and had someone else report their income under his social security number. The IRS requested the income tax for this other person’s income.

With assistance from Roger Watkins, the SCLS Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Coordinator, SCLS attorney Jada Charley, who speaks Spanish, followed the rules and properly provided the IRS with documentation to establish a case of identity theft. As a result of Ms. Charley’s intervention, her client will receive a check for $2,236.74 from the IRS, which is the amount that was withheld from her client’s plus interest.

IDENTITY THEFT is a growing issue, both in South Carolina and nationally. It is heartwarming to know that SCLS takes these cases and gets real results for South Carolinians with low-income who are victims of identity theft.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from identity theft, visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/.

Good job SCLS!

-RFW

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