Identity thieves obtain 100,000 electronic filing PINs from IRS system

The automated attack attempted to obtain E-file PINS for over 460,000 people using previously stolen personal data

The Internal Revenue Service was the target of an attack that used stolen social security numbers and other taxpayer data to obtain PINs that can be used to file tax returns electronically.

The attack occurred in January and targeted an IRS Web application that taxpayers use to obtain their so-called Electronic Filing (E-file) PINs. The app requires taxpayer information such as name, Social Security number, date of birth and full address.

Attackers attempted to obtain E-file PINs corresponding to 464,000 unique SSNs using an automated bot, and did so successfully for 101,000 SSNs before the IRS blocked it.

The personal taxpayer data used during the attack was not obtained from the IRS, but was stolen elsewhere, the agency said in a statement. The IRS is notifying affected taxpayers via mail and will monitor their accounts to protect them from tax-related identity theft.

While the IRS said that externally-acquired taxpayer data was used, the agency did suffer a security breach last year that allowed attackers to gain information such as Social Security information, date of birth and street address for over 300,000 taxpayers.

That attack involved the IRS' "Get Transcript" application and in that case too, the agency said that attackers were able to pass the app's verification steps using information acquired from an external source.

In recent years there have been many data breaches that gave hackers access to personal information, including SSNs. Last year alone, health insurers Anthem, Premera, CareFirst and Excellus announced large data breaches that affected tens of millions of Americans. Another breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management exposed personal information on 21.5 million current and former U.S. government employees.

Given the sheer amount of personal data that's now in the hands of cybercriminals, it's likely that some of them will try to monetize it and one possible method is by filing fraudulent tax returns.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?