The IRS revealed in a statement today that over 100,000 taxpayer accounts have been hacked by slick criminals to steal identities and claim fraudulent tax refunds this year.
The accounts were breached using the “Get Transcript” feature on the IRS website, where taxpayers can request a transcript of their tax returns from previous years.
The transcript shows all the information a thief needs to steal someones identity, including their Social Security number, date of birth, street address and tax filing status.
The thieves then take this information and file phony tax returns for this year, having the money sent to a pre-paid card or bank account.
Anyone’s information can be obtained using the “Get Transcript” feature, putting all taxpayers at risk.
Even more alarming is the fact that since the thieves have the taxpayers personal information they can also use it to file fake returns in future years.
According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen the agency became aware of the problem when technicians noticed an unusually high number of taxpayers seeking transcripts.
The system was targeted between February and mid-May; it has been temporarily shut down to address and correct the breaks in security on the site.
Koskinen said the exact numbers are still being tallied but they estimate that less than $5o million was taken.
It is also believed that these thieves, who appear to be professionals, tried to access 200,00 accounts, but only half those attempts were successful.
The IRS said that despite this breach, its main site is still safe and its core systems are still secure.
The agency is currently contacting those who had their information accessed and is offering those affected fraud monitoring for this year and 2016 as well.
The IRS said in their statement that they are: ” marking the underlying taxpayer accounts on our core processing system to flag for potential identity theft to protect taxpayers going forward—both right now and in 2016.”
Anyone with questions or concerns can call their local IRS office; click on this link to find the number.
You can also call their toll free number: (800) 829-1040; Be advised it can take a while to get through to a live person for help.
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