Articles written by: Marci Gietl, CPA
TAXPAYER TRANSCRIPT DATA THEFT
Recently, the IRS announced that over 100,000 taxpayer accounts were compromised utilizing the "Get Transcript" application through the IRS website. The improper usage dated from February to May 2015. The IRS shut down the app in May after noticing unusual activity. The IRS has assured the tax return filing submission systems are secure and were not compromised. Tax return filing systems are separate from the "Get Transcript" application. The thieves who accessed data had to use infromation obtained from outside sources to successfully utilize the app as it requires not just personal information, such as date of birth or social security number, but also 'out of wallet' information. 'Out of wallet' information includes personal facts, like someone’s car payment or other such information, that only that individual should know.
The IRS suspects the thieves may have been working towards committing identity theft during next year’s filing season. The IRS will be contacting all affected taxpayers with additional information, including providing credit monitoring services. The affected accounts have also had alerts placed on them for additional monitoring within the IRS systems through at least the 2016 filing season. The IRS will leave the
"Get Transcript" application off-line until further investigation and potential improvements can be made. If a taxpayer needs a transcript one can be requested through the “Get Transcript by Mail” tool at http://www.irs.gov.
The IRS and we at Becker & Rosen, are reminding you to be very aware of the potential dangers of posting any personal or financial information on line as it increases you’re vulnerability to identity theft. We also recommend that you maintain up-to-date computer security features to minimize your risk of hacking.
IRS, STATES, AND INDUSTRY COMBAT IDENTITY THEFT
The tax preparation industry, the IRS, and state taxing agencies have been working on a collaborative effort since March to improve methods to protect taxpayer data and to combat identity theft. On June 11, 2015, in IR-2015-87, the IRS announced the results of this effort. They have identified several new steps in which taxpayer data will be authenticated, using standardized sharing of data. This will aid in identifying fraud pattern indicators, schemes, and will increase alignment within the cybersecurity framework of the tax software industry with the IRS and the states. The governmental and industry participants have agreed to also work together on increased education to taxpayers concerning protecting of personal financial data. The initial results of this collaboration will be implemented this summer and fall in order to be ready for the 2016 filing season. However, the collaboration participants expect to continue improvements over the long-term to benefit not only the government and industry participants but the taxpayers and tax system as a whole.