Breach Notification , Fraud Management & Cybercrime , ID Fraud

IRS Doubles Number of Get Transcript Victims

Inspector General Identifies 724,000 Taxpayer Accounts Being Exposed
IRS Doubles Number of Get Transcript Victims

The Internal Revenue Service, for the second time since August, has revised upward the number of accounts victimized in its Get Transcript breach, with the tax agency saying the personal information from as many as 724,000 taxpayers' accounts may have been stolen.

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Following a nine-month review, the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration discovered that an additional 390,000 taxpayer accounts were possibly exploited by the attack on its Get Transcript system, the IRS said Friday.

The report of more than 700,000 affected accounts represents a dramatic increase. When the breach was first discovered in May 2015, the IRS believed that 114,000 accounts had been breached (see IRS: 100,000 Taxpayer Accounts Breached). In August, the IRS revised that tally to 334,000 accounts (see IRS: Hack Much Wider Than First Thought).

Now, the IRS also reports that it believes that hackers targeted - albeit unsuccessfully - not just 111,000 other taxpayer transcripts, as it first believed, but instead 570,000 taxpayer transcripts.

The IRS says it will begin on Monday notifying new victims, including those whose accounts were attacked but not breached. "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 are moving quickly to help these taxpayers."

The IRS says IG investigators identified suspicious email addresses that made multiple attempts to access accounts. The IRS says it's possible that some of those identified may be family members, tax return preparers or financial institutions using a single email address to attempt to access more than one account. In an abundance of caution, the IRS says it will notify all affected taxpayers.

The IRS launched Get Transcript in January 2014 to allow taxpayers to view and download their tax transcripts or have them mailed to their addresses. Since discovering the breach, the IRS suspended Get Transcript's online viewing and downloading features.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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