Once again, the Internal Revenue Service is reporting that a data breach has landed the personal information of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers in the hands of hackers. This time, the tax agency is admitting that the info of some 220,000 taxpayers was lost.
The agency now admits that the loss, first reported in May, was larger than it first thought, nearly doubling the number of taxpayers whose info was stolen.
Hackers exploited a weakness in an online system called “Get Transcript” where taxpayers were able to gain access to their own past filings. Hackers used information gleaned from a variety of sources to steal the data through the transcript service.
“As it did in May, the IRS is moving aggressively to protect taxpayers whose account information may have been accessed,” the IRS said in its statement. “The IRS will begin mailing letters in the next few days to about 220,000 taxpayers where there were instances of possible or potential access to ‘Get Transcript’ taxpayer account information.”
The IRS now says that the hackers were able to gain past filings of at least 334,000 taxpayers through the vulnerable website.
The agency is contacting these victims and offering free credit monitoring services to make sure no one illegally uses their information.
It is estimated that billions a year are lost to false tax returns. It is thought that, in 2013 alone, the IRS paid out $5.8 billion in fraudulent refunds.
Only last month, an IRS scammer who stole as much as $3.8 million from taxpayers was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison for the theft.
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