Tax Alert: IRS Security Breach 300% Greater than Estimated

The IRS is sending out more letters notifying taxpayers they may have been affected by the May 2015 security breach of the online Get Transcript service. The original estimate of affected taxpayers (those whom the hackers gained access to the taxpayer’s account) has grown from 114,000 to approximately 334,000 taxpayers. The hackers used stolen Social Security Numbers and other data acquired from social media and other sources to breach the IRS’s system. The IRS is offering free credit monitoring services and other protections (such as Identity Protection PINs) to taxpayers whose information was compromised. In addition, they are notifying another 170,000 households that their personal information could be at risk even though the fraudsters failed to access the IRS system with their information.

If you are a victim of identity theft, the IRS will contact you via mail with further instructions.  The IRS will NEVER contact you by e-mail or phone regarding identity theft matters.  The initial taxpayers(first 114,000 that were originally thought to be affected) that were subject to this data breach have already been notified and offered free access to a credit-monitoring service.   The IRS has emphasized that the letters it sends to affected households “will not request any personal identification information from taxpayers.”

Even if you’re not affected by this breach, signing up for a paid monitoring service is becoming a smarter move. You may also consider reaching out to the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—to have a 90-day fraud alert placed on your file. That red flag requires lenders to take extra steps before opening new loans or lines of credit, although it’s not foolproof.

o    Equifax – www.equifax.com, 800-525-6285

o    Experian – www.experian.com, 888-397-3742

o    TransUnion – www.transunion.com, 800-680-7289