The IRS has revealed that tax information on 104,000 filers was stolen by scammers this Spring from the IRS system. The scammers used the IRS online tax system to obtain individuals’ income information through the IRS online transcript system. They were able to answer the security questions by using information they had gleaned from social websites, including FB. They had stolen the social security numbers through other sources. Using this information, the scammers filed phony tax returns in the victims’ names. They sent in 35,600 fake returns and up to 13,000 got past the IRS fraud detection system. As a result around $39 million in false refunds were issued to the scammers.
The IRS has taken some steps to limit damage to the victims, including paying for credit monitoring for the people whose tax data was stolen and making the security questions more difficult, thus making it harder for scammers to check social media for answers to personal questions. Additionally, at present, individuals cannot go online and get their tax transcripts; they must request the transcripts by mail. The IRS has not yet advised when individuals will again be able to get their transcripts online.
For more information on this topic, visit http://www.irs.gov/Security Summit.