Friday , May 24 2024

IRS: Thieves Stole Personal Information of 100,000 Taxpayers

The IRS announced Tuesday that thieves stole the information of more than 100,000 taxpayers.

In a statement, the IRS said criminals had prior access to taxpayers’ personal information, including social security numbers, that they used to then gain unauthorized access to the IRS’ "Get Transcript" system.

According to the IRS, thieves attempted to access about 200,000 taxpayer accounts, and entered about half of them.

"These third parties succeeded in clearing a multi-step authentication process that required prior personal knowledge about the taxpayer, including social security information, date of birth, tax filing status and street address before accessing IRS systems," the IRS said in a statement on their website.

The IRS called the cyber attack a "sophisticated effort." But tech expert J. Colin Petersen, CEO of J – I.T. Outsource, said it was not a hack.

"They (thieves) used personal information from the taxpayer and used the system in the manner that it was designed," Petersen said.

According to the IRS, thieves input stolen information in the IRS "Get Transcript" system online where taxpayers can access information about their accounts.

The IRS said the thieves breached multiple security layers, including answering security questions–unsettling in an age where personal information is often voluntarily shared online.

"Oftentimes the questions that are asked can be readily found in public forums or [through] somebody who is trolling somebody’s social media accounts," Petersen said.

"I think it’s an eye opener to me right now," said Kelly Bain in Clovis, "So, I think I’m going to take a better look at that."

Although the thieves already had access to stolen information before accessing the IRS site, Petersen believes the IRS could’ve done more to strengthen their website, such as requiring more detailed responses for personal security questions.

The security breach is certainly a reminder for people to protect their personal information.

"Just be really careful about who you give information to and what it’s for," said Nancy Gunst in Clovis.

The IRS believes it’s possible thieves accessed these accounts to use for identity theft for next year’s tax season.

For those affected, the IRS said they will begin sending out letters later this week with information about credit monitoring and other steps.

The full IRS statement can be found here: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Statement-on-the-Get-Transcript-Application

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