Thieves got access to about 100,000 taxpayers info
The criminals used the Get Transcript online function to access taxpayers accounts. A transcript provides a facsimile of most of your return. The transcript includes Forms W-2s, Forms 1098 and Forms 1099. This is a treasure trove of information for crooks. Currently, IRS has disabled the online retrieval of transcripts. You can still request a transcript online and have it mailed to the current address IRS has on file. This is the largest IRS identity theft episode revealed to date.
The Get Transcript function verified your identity several ways.
- Social Security number.
- Date of birth.
- Most recent address.
- Financial information such as a recent mortgage lender name.
Unfortunately, much of this information is available from prior identity thefts from others. While the IRS’ verification process is not as secure as two-part authentication, it is more than most financial institutions use.
An example of two-part authentication is when the website texts a code to the cell phone number they have on file for you. You then have to input the code as part of your login. The code is different every time. Another method is to provide users with a small hardware device tied to their account that generates a new number that has to be used at each login.
I cannot imagine many taxpayers want to give their cell phone numbers to IRS. The cost of sending a hardware device to every taxpayer would be excessive. Would the government use the hardware device to track taxpayers?
For more on IRS Identity Theft
AP News Break – IRS says thieves stole tax info from 100,000
The Washington Post – FBI says it’s investigating identity theft at IRS