Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Saturday, October 31, 2015

IRS Get Transcript Data Breach

In May 2015 the IRS announced that hackers had gained access to approximately 100,000 tax accounts through IRS’ Get Transcript application. This data included Social Security information, birthdays and street addresses. The hackers had to have sufficient information about the victims as the IRS Get Transcript application has a multi-step authentication process. As a result, the IRS has disabled the Get Transcript application until they are able to strengthen the application’s security measures.

Through the Get Transcript application hackers could receive tax return transcripts, tax account transcripts, record of account transcripts, wage and income transcripts. The data obtained by the hackers varied depending on the type of transcript that was selected. A tax return transcript provides information from a taxpayer’s filed tax return. A tax account transcript shows any adjustments the taxpayer or IRS has made to the filed return. A record of account transcript combines the information from the tax return and tax account transcripts. A wage and income transcript contains information reported to the IRS, such as W-2s, 1099s and 1098s.

The IRS believes the attempts started in February and continued through mid-May. The hackers made approximately 200,000 attempts during this time period, with more than 100,000 of those successful in getting through the authentication process. The IRS stated that it will notify taxpayers if their information was obtained by the hackers. The IRS is offering free credit monitoring for affected taxpayers. Those taxpayers will be receiving specific instructions that tell them how to sign up for the credit monitoring. Also, the IRS has flagged those accounts for potential identity theft so that the taxpayers can be protected going forward. In regard to the other 100,000, the IRS will notify the taxpayers that thieves may have their personal information.

If you receive correspondence from regarding the transcript breach and are not sure if it is actually from the IRS, you should contact the IRS. Please note, correspondence from the IRS will not request personal information such as your social security number or credit card or financial information. However, the IRS asks that you do not call the IRS regarding the breach until you have received correspondence from the IRS, as the phone lines remain extremely busy due to staffing limitations.

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