More Tax Fraud Victims
The IRS said in May of 2015 that about 110,000 taxpayers had their data stolen through the IRS's Get Transcript feature. In August they said the number was actually around 334,000. Now they say it's even more than that.
The new number, released a couple weeks ago, is 724,000. That's more than three times the amount that was originally reported. There were nearly 300,000 unsuccessful theft attempts.
Get Transcript, the feature that has been exploited, was supposed to be a way for taxpayers to retrieve their most recent tax transcript. To do so, however, a user must submit their name, date of birth, Social Security number and filing status. The IRS then used information from Equifax to ask questions to verify a user's identity. Once these steps were completed, the person submitting the information gained access to a trove of information, including current and past W2 forms.
Identity thieves are able to gain most of that information from internet black markets. Once they have access to the transcripts and W2 forms, they're able to file for a tax return in the victim's name and collect the refund.
Get Transcript has been discontinued, but the IRS's new system is no better. They mail a PIN to previous victims, but the PIN can be retrieved online using the exact same method used in the Get Transcript feature.
As we've said in other articles about tax return fraud, the only surefire way to make sure you don't become a victim of this particular kind of identity theft is to file your taxes before the thieves get a chance to do it.