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Thieves steal tax data for 100,000 from an IRS website

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
May 26, 2015
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You might need to keep a closer eye than usual on your tax-related info. The Internal Revenue Service is warning that intruders stole tax data for 100,000 people between February and May by taking advantage of a flaw in the agency's transcript website. The evildoers successfully circumvented a security check that asks for static info like your Social Security number and tax filing status. The IRS is temporarily shutting down transcripts and says that its main servers are safe, but this could lead to the culprits filing for bogus tax refunds and getting victims in trouble.

The kicker? Security researchers have known about vulnerabilities in the transcript service for a while. It's not hard to bypass those identity checks if you're willing to find stolen personal information on the black market, and it's frequently possible to guess the right answers using educated guesses or number generators. Frankly, it's surprising that a breach on this scale didn't happen sooner -- the IRS will likely need to implement passwords or other changeable safeguards to prevent crooks from simply walking in the front door.

[Image credit: Moment Editorial/Getty Images]

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