IRS data breach larger than first reported

IRS officials announced on Monday that hackers accessed tax information from more than 338,000 taxpayers. The IRS had originally said that hackers potentially accessed information for 114,000 taxpayers via an online system. The agency did a further review and issued a statement Monday adding 224,000 more victims to the list of those whose information was potentially accessed. The tax-collection agency said it realized the total number of victims was twice as high after it conducted “an extensive review covering the 2015 filing season.”

The IRS is now sending letters to those taxpayers to warn them about potential identity theft, offer free credit protection and give them an extra PIN to protect future tax filings. Hackers abused the IRS website tool called “Get Transcript.” It was meant to help taxpayers who lose track of old tax documents. They could easily download several years of tax forms for tasks like applying for a mortgage or college financial aid.

Tax forms contain much more sensitive information, including salary, family information, and property and investment values. With this additional stolen information, criminals can claim bogus tax refunds — or open credit lines in your name. New evidence shows that the criminals had access to the personal information of some 610,000 taxpayers. They managed to use the “Get Transcript” tool to access tax documents for about half of them.

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