~ Where the Sun Will Never Set on Our liberty ~
Keep a check on your information folks! The IRS will be notifying those that have been affected!
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sophisticated criminals used an online service run by the IRS to access personal tax information from more than 100,000 taxpayers, part an elaborate scheme to steal identities and claim fraudulent tax refunds, the IRS said Tuesday.
The thieves accessed a system called "Get Transcript," where taxpayers can get tax returns and other filings from previous years. In order to access the information, the thieves cleared a security screen that required knowledge about the taxpayer, including Social Security number, date of birth, tax filing status and street address, the IRS said.
"We're confident that these are not amateurs," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "These actually are organized crime syndicates that not only we but everybody in the financial industry are dealing with."
Koskinen wouldn't say whether investigators believe the criminals are based overseas — or where they obtained enough personal information about the taxpayers to access their returns. The IRS has launched a criminal investigation. The agency's inspector general is also investigating.
Identity thieves, both foreign and domestic, have stepped up their efforts in recent years to claim fraudulent tax refunds. The agency estimates it paid out $5.8 billion in fraudulent refunds to identity thieves in 2013.
"Eighty percent of the of the identity theft we're dealing with and refund fraud is related to organized crime here and around the world," Koskinen said. "These are extremely sophisticated criminals with access to a tremendous amount of data."
Congress is already pressing the IRS for information about the breach.
"That the IRS — home to highly sensitive information on every single American and every single company doing business here at home — was vulnerable to this attack is simply unacceptable," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "What's more, this agency has been repeatedly warned by top government watchdogs that its data security systems are inadequate against the growing threat of international hackers and data thieves."
Koskinen said the agency was alerted to the thieves when technicians noticed an increase in the number of taxpayers seeking transcripts.
The IRS said they targeted the system from February to mid-May. The service has been temporarily shut down.
Taxpayers sometimes need copies of old tax returns to apply for mortgages or college aid. While the system is shut down, taxpayers can still apply for transcripts by mail.
The IRS said its main computer system, which handles tax filing submissions, remains secure.
"In all, about 200,000 attempts were made from questionable email domains, with more than 100,000 of those attempts successfully clearing authentication hurdles," the agency said. "During this filing season, taxpayers successfully and safely downloaded a total of approximately 23 million transcripts."
The agency is still determining how many fraudulent tax refunds were claimed this year using information from the stolen transcripts. Koskinen provided a preliminary estimate, saying less than $50 million was successfully claimed.
Thieves can also use the information to claim fraudulent tax refunds in the future. As identity theft has exploded, the agency has added filters to its computer system to identify suspicious returns. These filters look for anomalies in the information provided by the taxpayer.
Until recently, tax refund fraud has been surprisingly simple, once thieves obtain a taxpayer's Social Security number and date of birth. Typically, thieves would file fake tax returns with made-up information early in the filing season, before the legitimate taxpayers filed their returns — and before employers and financial institutions filed wage and tax documents with the IRS.
The refunds would often be sent electronically to prepaid debit cards or bank accounts.
IRS officials say new computer filters are helping to stop many crude attempts at identity theft. This year, the IRS stopped almost 3 million suspicious returns, Koskinen said.
However, old tax returns can help thieves fill out credible-looking returns in the future, helping them get around the IRS filters.
Tax returns can include a host of personal information that can help someone steal an identity, including Social Security numbers and birthdates of dependents and spouses. The IRS said the thieves appeared to already have a lot of personal information about the victims.
I just wish the govt understood what's going on here, and likely significantly understated the number of taxpayer filings affected too.
Getting money from filing bogus tax returns is a secondary concern. This is a game of much bigger money. In fact, by getting the IRS to flag those bogus returns that aids the hackers.
The game goes like this, hack Nieman-Marcus, and/or Target, banking institutions, Social Security, and of course military records....
Okay now that you have all those databases, what do you do with them? You correlate them! Goal is to find all the matching records in those databases. Those correlated command a higher value when selling others those identities, see?
Okay so now, you go to the IRS tax return database and input the information, but not by hand, your computer did it, automated with a bot program probably, and the IRS says "100,000 people's information was stolen," which for the hacker is the affirmation of what records of what they've correlated are legitimate and what isn't.
So now what's the value of the ones that correlate with the other databases but don't correlate with IRS records? They've just found the pool of records that qualify as clearance records!
I had a friend who was a confidante to Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, chosen mostly because of his clearances, and he was number 3 at NASA as well at the time, sporting a 192 IQ, with 6 Ph.ds to his name. I am stating this not to impress since I don't believe in that educational system nor the IQ blah blah either, but this is the stuff that qualified him in the government's eyes.
He had 3 social security numbers, one for his tax returns and public NASA work, one for his gs 15 and above NASA work, and one for his access to the phone in his home to talk to the President, if he wasn't flown in.
Do you see the value to a terrorist, spy, or other subversive anti-American government or organization of those clearance identifications that had no filings with the IRS but showed other uses of identity to purchase things or receive financial deposits?
My friend was paid under all 3 accounts separately, and the 2 not used for filing anything were exempt "for the sake of national security" and limited his income reporting to his public job at NASA.
That I know about this says many others might, especially the children of people like my friend, who may be in ISIS as rebels against their parents. And let us not forget Snowden's explaining everything, and though I saw him a hero initially I've corrected that mistake with his defecting to Russia. And that all goes to Snowden sharing this information with our enemies, any and all of them.
Though I hate to believe the government has no idea this is what is happening, under obama any form of #ProgressiveStupidity is possible.
Are you sure it's not the IRS doing this for the smoke 'n' mirrors effect?
Sounds about like their misinformation tactics to cover their ***.
From where I sit, I know our records are sold, and high value ones are auctioned. It's hacker network stuff. You do some digging (with some good virus software), especially on Internet Relay Chat and you'll discover this stuff is happening daily.
The IRS cover-up/misinformation stuff, sure to some things, however, not seeming to misrepresent records since that's all FOIA attainable and their lie is easy to expose. I think it'd be good if you have, or were to find, some proof there was no breach of records. That'd be useful to the idea it's a cover up.
And in light of all the people fired over Lerner issue, and others...Well actually 0, and stonewalling the rule with Congress, along with a DOJ that investigates every police department if one African-American is shot by cops, but ignores the IRS, Hillary Clinton, etc., I don't see the benefit to cover-up/mis-information angle, nothing is going to happen to them anyway.
"nothing is going to happen to them anyway."
Thanks Robin, although this is not a surprise. It appears that the only ones prospering and in control of our country are thugs and criminals. Obama and all of his cronies built this.
Most welcome, Kwic! Great to see you!
Good to see you too Robin. :-)