THIS IS NOT TO SCARE YOU OR CAUSE YOU UNNECESSARY WORRY OR CONCERN BUT TO MAKE YOU AWARE OF AN IRS ISSUE.
On May 27, 2015, the IRS announced that they had recently discovered a data breach where information on approximately 104,000 taxpayers had been accessed without authorization. The unauthorized accessed was gained through the IRS online “Get Transcript” program. This program while not producing a copy of the tax return, allows the taxpayer to get line-by-line information going back 5 or more years. In order for a hacker to break in and get this information, they would have already had to have access to information such as your social security number, matching name, address, and other personal information. Otherwise, the hacker would not have enough information to access your account in the IRS system.
For 2015 filing season, there were 23 million requests for “Get Transcript” information. Even though 104,000 cases is a small percentage, if you are one of the affected taxpayers, it is significant. In reality, there were approximately 200,000 attempts but only approximately 104,000 were successful in getting taxpayer information. The IRS has said that they will be notifying the 200,000 affected taxpayers by letter and will provide free credit monitoring services to the 104,000 taxpayers whose information was actually accessed. No date has been provided at this time by the IRS for this notification process.
I strongly recommend that you take the following action especially since we do not know at this time if you were one of the 200,000 or 104,000 affected taxpayers:
- Monitor your bank account very closely and immediately notify your bank of any suspicious or unauthorized activity on your account.
- Keep a close eye on your credit report and watch for the opening of new accounts which you did not authorize.
- Be very suspicious of telephone calls wanting to sell you a product especially if you did not request information about the product or you did not initiate the call yourself.
- There are a lot of telephone calls being made by people indicating that they are with the IRS and informing you that you are in deep trouble for unpaid taxes. They are requesting immediate payment or threatening you with being taken to jail. The IRS does not contact you by telephone. Do NOT talk to these people. You may even consider reporting this kind of activity to the IRS Criminal Investigation unit.
Like I said at the top, this is not to scare you but to inform you of a serious issue. If you have any questions or concerns, you are welcome to give me a call. If you should get a letter from the IRS that you were actually one of the 104,000, please let me know so that we can make sure that we keep this in control.
The IRS is scheduled to make a report to the Senate Finance Committee by June 5, 2015. Please check back on this as I will be posting updates as they become available.