In early June, the IRS announced to the public that it had allowed thieves to steal the private information of thousands of taxpayers. According to those reports, the thieves accessed the information through the IRS’s online “Get Transcript” website and then used it to file fraudulent tax returns to the tune of about $50 million before the breach was discovered. At the time of those first reports, the IRS failed to give an explanation as to how it happened. The Nation’s top tax agency stated that the scammers were not amateurs and that was about it.
While there have still been no definite reports as to how the breach occurred, there are some, including the chairman of Credit.com, who have their theories. One real possibility is that the scammers used the so-called “Dark Web” to purchase the necessary personal identifiable information (PII) in order to cut through the IRS’s security measures. The Dark Web is where criminals buy and sell PII, regularly.
Another possibility of the breach is simply taxpayers themselves. Scammers and con artists use many measures to trick people into revealing their important PII. Another real threat comes from social media use. Without really considering the possible consequences, people reveal a lot of details about their lives on social media. If you share the right information the wrong people can get a hold of that and use it against you.
One other possibility is that it was an inside job. Although that scenario is unlikely, the possibility that the scammers had someone on the inside that helped them access the PII does exist. It’s very likely that the thieves might never be caught and the IRS might not ever know how they got in. However, one thing is sure; the IRS has to make sure they don’t allow this type of breach again.