WASHINGTON, DC (February 11, 2016) IRS has disclosed that identity thieves looking to file fraudulent returns in order to steal refunds hacked the IRS computer systems in January. The thieves used approximately 464,000 Social Security numbers stolen elsewhere to create false logins through the IRS Electronic Filing PIN service. About 101,000 of those attempts were successful. An E-file PIN is used in some instances to file an electronic tax return.
Fortunately, no personal taxpayer data was disclosed through the IRS systems. Affected taxpayers will be notified by IRS and their accounts marked as possible targets for identity theft.
“IRS holds the personal information of every taxpayer in this country, which gets the attention of criminals here and overseas,” explains National Association of Enrolled Agents Sr. Director of Government Relations Robert Kerr. “Recognizing that it holds the Holy Grail for identity thieves, IRS is taking new measures to protect its information. For example, at the end of 2015 IRS teamed with state departments of revenue and tax industry leaders for a Security Summit to create new anti-fraud measures to protect taxpayers.”
The IRS is also encouraging taxpayers to file early and beat the crooks to any refund they may have coming, so it’s not too early to contact a tax professional. Be aware, however, that this is another area that IRS advises using caution: don’t give your financial information to just anyone. Make sure the person who does your taxes is registered with the IRS, has been tested on taxation, and is required to complete continuing education courses to keep up with changes in the tax code. Enrolled agents (also known as “EAs”) are tested and overseen by the IRS, and must report annual continuing education in order to maintain their federal EA credential. You can find an enrolled agent near you in the searchable directory at eatax.org
NAEA is a non-profit membership organization composed of tax specialists licensed by the US Department of the Treasury. NAEA members are dedicated to maintaining the highest professional standards and to increasing the integrity of the tax administration system. They must abide by a code of ethics and professional conduct, and must complete annual continuing education that surpasses the IRS requirement.