A 2015 cyber hack of the IRS potentially gained access to personal data from more than 700,000 taxpayer accounts, more than double the total previously estimated, the tax agency said Friday.
The information potentially stolen includes Social Security numbers, birth dates and other data that cyber thieves could use to impersonate a real taxpayer, file a false federal tax return and collect a refund.
The unidentified electronic attackers got in, giving the IRS an embarrassing black eye, by taking taxpayer information they acquired elsewhere and using it to correctly answer personal identity-verification questions in the “Get Transcript” application on the agency’s website.
The function, disabled after the IRS discovered the breach last May, enabled legitimate taxpayers to get information about their previous tax filings.
The IRS initially said approximately 100,000 taxpayer accounts had been compromised, then raised the total to as many as 334,000 in August. Friday’s estimate added an additional 390,000 accounts, boosting the estimated total to more than 700,000.
The cyber thieves unsuccessfully tried to gain access to more than 500,000 other taxpayer accounts, the IRS said. That total is also far higher than previously estimated.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Kevin McCoy