IRS: Er, those 100,000 tax records illegally accessed? Make that over 700,000

Third 'hacking' review shows epic levels of fail

By Iain Thomson in San Francisco


The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has admitted that its problem with "Get transcript" scammers is much worse than first thought – over seven times as bad to be precise.

In May of 2015, the IRS reported that around 100,000 people had had their tax returns and income forms sent out to criminals who gamed its "Get transcript" feature by providing stolen personal information between February and mid-May that year.

In August, that number rose by 220,000 following a further review. On Friday, America's most-disliked public agency said that number had risen to over 700,000, with another 295,000 attempts to steal taxpayer transcripts.

"The IRS is committed to protecting taxpayers on multiple fronts against tax-related identity theft, and these mailings are part of that effort," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement.

"We appreciate the work of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to identify these additional taxpayers whose accounts may have been accessed. We are moving quickly to help these taxpayers."

On Monday, the IRS will start informing those affected by snail mail and the "Get Transcript" feature will remain closed until the mess has been sorted out. Where records have been stolen, the victims will get credit monitoring services free of charge for a year, and will also get a PIN code to lock down their accounts from further pillaging.

The agency will be sharing the details of its experience with government departments in other states as part of its Security Summit group, which seeks to pool information to stop fraud. Based on the current situation, the group has a lot of work to do. ®

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