Deepening congressional concern over identity theft is casting a spotlight on tax return preparers who share their clients' Social Security numbers with outside contractors.In a report to Congress focusing fresh attention on the tax-outsourcing issue, auditors from the Government Accountability Office warned that the sharing of personal financial information by tax preparers and other private-sector industries could leave Americans unnecessarily vulnerable to financial fraud.

"Stolen and misused Social Security numbers are a prime enabler of identity theft - a crime that devastates people and costs businesses billions of dollars each year," House Ways and Means Committee member Jim McCrery, R-La., said in response to the GAO findings. "Companies and their contractors must adequately protect SSNs at every step of a business transaction."

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