back to article IRS: Er, those 100,000 tax records illegally accessed? Make that over 700,000

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has admitted that its problem with "Get transcript" scammers is much worse than first thought – over seven times as bad to be precise. In May of 2015, the IRS reported that around 100,000 people had had their tax returns and income forms sent out to criminals who gamed its "Get transcript …

  1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    Whoops

    Not whoops for the article, we all expect that sort of thing but Oops looks like I am first on. Better not mess it up. I just wondered if the IIRS can be sued. I gather the US government can choose.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Whoops

      Yes, the government can be sued but only it allows itself to be. I don't there's been a whole lot of success with citizens suing the government over the years.

      OTOH, why sue... free credit monitoring and a 4 digit PIN (wtf?) will make up for all the heartbreak, right?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whoops

        Just give everyone free credit monitoring. After all it's the banks that enable fraud in the first place.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Whoops

          Instead of free credit monitoring can I just be exempted from giving my personal information to incompetent government agencies. You know, like the IRS.

      2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Whoops

        There was a heart surgeon at one hospital that killed several dozen patients and, finally!, a magistrate judge let a suit for malpractice to proceed. Mind you, this same surgeon was operating on Congress critters and veterans for years. I was really surprised it took so long.

        I have a medical team at the local VA hospital here and one of their first recommendations was suing the US Navy for malpractice and wrongful termination, and then the Veteran's Administration itself for malpractice. I'm not made of money and the only way you can go ahead on such a suit is to find a greedy enough lawyer, willing to stick to the case, and willing to play the magistrate judge lottery. I thinks it fairly obvious that I haven't found one yet. Gave up long ago.

  2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Feral Stupidity At Work Again

    At the rate the ferals are going why not just make all the data open access? At least Americans would know who has their private data; anyone who wants it.

    This is making the income tax untenable because of the feral incompetence at securing personal data.

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Feral Stupidity At Work Again

      Looking at the privacy notice booklet that they send fairly regularly, the only people that don't have immediate access is the general public. Anyone even vaguely official already does. Some privacy.

      [Which is why I don't give a shit about privacy. Now access to my devices? I get into radical frothing at the mouth mode around that.]

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Feral Stupidity At Work Again

      Five years ago, they should have given the agency a choice:

      1) Fix your computer systems from top to bottom or

      2) Go back to processing paper.

      At this point #1 should be off the table.

  3. Notas Badoff

    Isn't this the expected outcome of...

    Isn't this the expected outcome of all the accumulated breaches of personal information over the past few years? Any given set of "are you the person you say you are" questions will likely have answers "out there on the netz". The IRS set up a front-end that checked for "is it you" stupidly, and then they gave out even more personal information.

    There is no set of online questions that is proof against the aggregated 'private' information 'stolen' from all the idiot corporate/government databases. I say 'none', ever, because if the IRS should now add requiring your grandmother's blood type and shoe size, they would store that somewhere, it would get lifted sometime, and rinse-repeat...

    Can we at least give up on "the security of your private information is important to us" vs. the far simpler "we lost your shit, so we lost the company and our jobs, and yes your shit is for sale but our names are on the free publicly accessible wall-of-shame site www.footgun.org" ?

    BTW: Is footgun.org really available? Damn!

  4. elDog Silver badge

    The only time the feds will fix this mess is when

    the real criminals (congress) have their bank accounts drained - including the hidden ones overseas.

    Seriously(?), if the other crooks can get this far into the govmint's pants, I assume that pretty soon they'll be transferring the few bars of real gold left in Fort Knox to some other home. Maybe they can even infiltrate the fake money-making apparatus of the Federal Reserve.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: The only time the feds will fix this mess is when

      What makes you think that hasn't happened? Just because the Gubbermint says something doesn't make it true.

  5. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Gold? Fort Knox?

    Gold in Fort Knox?

    There isn't any?

    1. Fatman Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Gold? Fort Knox?

      <quote>Gold in Fort Knox?

      There isn't any?</quote>

      We know, Goldfinger stole it all ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058150/ )

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Gold? Fort Knox?

        Any die hard 'Die Hard' fan (sorry, had a beer as an aperitiv for lunch) knows that the bulk of the gold is stored in New York.

        1. John Geek

          Re: Gold? Fort Knox?

          ... stored in new york in Trump's personal bathroom.

          1. Tom 13

            Re: Gold? Fort Knox?

            Trump's ego may think otherwise, but he ain't no JP Morgan.

  6. David Roberts Silver badge
    Facepalm

    On an almost unrelated note...

    ...the UK Government is still hot to grab all patient data, aggregate it (anonymously *cough* of course) and sell it off for big bucks to all and sundry. Including big multi-national pharma.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  7. officialchicken
    Thumb Up

    Opportunity for progress

    It seems like we have found the first group of candidates for a flat tax.

  8. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    700000 IRS tax records

    This was electronic? No trucks and forklifts involved? I'm actually impressed that the IRS managed to digitize something. Now I'm wondering if it takes them three years to find a mistake so that they can add three years of penalties.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: 700000 IRS tax records

      Depends which political party you belong to:

      Democrats - 1 to 3 years

      Republican - 3 -7 years

      All others - prison even if it is misspelling.

    2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: 700000 IRS tax records

      I was actually mesmerized by the fact that someone got the IRS computers to cough up so much in a reasonable period of time. It had to be done electronically and I seriously doubt it was just the world facing computers involved in the process. Those puppies are seriously lagged. Or was that they were seriously lagged the indicator that they'd been breached?

      "Inquiring minds want to know."

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    I demand a recount!

    Keep counting Sam... If your calculations were incorrect, not once but twice, do them again, and show your work, no guestimates!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    America's most-disliked public agency

    Maybe, for the time being. I think other TLA agencies are working hard for this coveted position.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: America's most-disliked public agency

      Excellent point. On the hatred level, they're all in close competition. What the IRS does lead on by leaps and bounds is FEAR. Even more than the tin foil hat conspiracy theories about disappearing people, when the IRS comes for you it's guilty until you can prove yourself innocent, with the interest meter running the whole time. Nobody knows anybody who has been "disappeared". Everybody knows at least one person who has been screwed by the IRS.

  11. partypop69

    Why is our tax info sitting on the public internet ?

    Maybe the irs should hire an it company that knows what they are doing.

  12. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Credit monitoring?

    Aside from the inanity of "free for a whole year", has anyone here ever been the subject of one of these data breach, got the free monitoring and actually been notified of any fraudulent activity?

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Credit monitoring?

      No doubt the problem is that all the notifications were sent to the identity thieves.

  13. webhead
    Devil

    If I read the article correctly, fraudsters were able to scam the irs system by using personal identifiable information of the account holder. That means to me that unhappiness should be pointed that we have 700k+ with compromised pii, and that with added transcripts from the irs, it adds an additional pii on this 700k+, and to me, means the 700k+ has much higher chance of credit issues and worse.

    1. Tom 13

      I expect part of the problem is that it is so much easier to crack these thing than people think. Let's assume your name really was Web Head. So I run an address look up on your name. Now I have, if not your address, at least the address of several people with the same name. I can also easily find your phone number. Now I can check farcebook, twatter, and a few other places to find likes and dislikes, maybe even the name of your favorite pet. If you're a prolific poster I can probably find the names of you favorite movies. Favorite color? Pish! What are the odds it isn't part of ROYGBIV? I mean really, how many people will put in chartreuse as their favorite color? (I would but I can't remember how to spell it and need to look it up, which makes it unworkable for me.)

      Yeah, not half as hard as people think. And with 150 million filing returns, it's a target rich environment. You don't have to have a 50% success rate, even 2% will yield a lot of data.

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