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Identity Theft: An Issue for Household Employers

Posted by Kathy Webb on Feb 20, 2012 8:27:00 AM

According to a report released by the National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson, the number of tax returns the Internal Revenue Service decided needed additional screening for possible fraud and/or identity theft in 2011 exceeded 1 million, a 72 percent increase over 2010. The office of Taxpayer Advocate is established as an independent watchdog within the IRS and it reports annually on the agency's performance.

Of real concern is the instances where the valid SSN holder doesn't know that their number is being used, as the IRS has no mechanism for advising the true account holder of the possible identity theft.

Household employers have legal obligations to protect the personal identifying information of individuals they employ in their home, and are wise to be prudent in verifying the background and identity of individuals they bring into their private homes and employ as care givers for their vunerable family members.

The first indication that many household employers have that the taxpayer identification of their household staff may be suspect is receipt of a Social Security Administration "No Match" letter. This advises that the SSN and the name on a Form W-2 do not agree with SSA records.

How does a household employer verify identity information of newly hired employees?

  • Perform a pre-employment background check that includes a SSN trace. Families can order these checks from the HomeWork Solutions' website.
  • Complete the Form I-9 with the new hire at time of employment and make sure you look at the identity documents.
  • Consider using e-Verify, the online system developed by the Department of Homeland Security for pre-employment screening that matches candidate information against government databases to validate employment eligibility. e-Verify Self-Check, a USCIS system that allows job applicants to confirm their work eligibility before they apply for a job, is rolling out nationwide. Self-Check does NOT relieve the employer of the obligation to comply with I-9 regulations.

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Topics: nanny e-verify, household employee background check, nanny background screening

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