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US stiffens check-cashing rules to fight rampant South Florida ID theft, tax fraud

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MIAMI — Federal authorities have issued tough new rules on check-cashing businesses in South Florida as part of the ongoing fight against rampant identity theft and tax fraud.

The Treasury Department's order Monday applies to federal tax refund checks over $1,000 in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Customers attempting to cash them will undergo greater scrutiny: they'll have to pose for a digital photograph, provide a thumbprint and give a telephone number.

The order will apply to check-cashing stores in the two South Florida counties from Aug. 3 through Jan. 30, 2016.

A typical scheme involves a tax refund fraudulently obtained through identity theft. Internal Revenue Service officials say the check is frequently cashed by a person using the stolen identity.

Authorities say South Florida is a national hotbed of these fraud schemes.

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