IRS investigating taxpayer data breach
Published: May. 27, 2015 at 3:09 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2015 at 3:57 AM EDT
Congress is still trying to learn more from the Internal Revenue Service about a data breach where thieves accessed personal tax information from more than 100,000 Americans. The IRS commissioner said he's confident those responsible are not amateurs and likely part of an organized crime syndicate.
The commissioner said hackers got the information by accessing a system called Get Transcript, which is used by taxpayers to retrieve past tax returns and filings.
The IRS said the thieves accessed the system and sensitive data from February until mid-May.
And while program Get Transcript has been temporarily shut down, IRS officials said the system that handles tax filing submissions is still secure.
Taxpayer information that was compromised in this breach was used by the hackers to file fraudulent tax returns.
The agency is still trying to figure out exactly how many fraudulent tax refunds were claimed this year, and have opened a criminal investigation into the matter.
The IRS does believe, though, that less than $50 million was successfully claimed by the crooks.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said that the IRS was even vulnerable to the attack is unacceptable.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott echoed that sentiment saying, "While we are still in the process of determining who perpetrated this data breach at the IRS and what exact information they have stolen, what we do know is that it is absolutely unacceptable that this vulnerability exists. The amount of personal data the IRS has on hand, including social security numbers, means that the agency must do everything possible to ensure their systems are protected. This is especially egregious given the numerous warnings the IRS has received from federal watchdogs that its security systems are not capable of defending against online thieves."
IRS officials said they are contacting taxpayers whose information was compromised, which includes a lot of personal information that tax returns and other filings often include, like Social Security numbers and birth dates.
This is the agency's response to the breach: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Statement-on-the-Get-Transcript-Application
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