[Ed. – Up front, it doesn’t appear that the IRS thinks any taxpayers have so far suffered financial losses from this. The concern is what the thieves could do with the data — other than file for some 15,000 fraudulent refunds, which is the suspected total so far.]
Thieves managed to steal information on more than 100,000 taxpayers from the IRS, Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday — though he insisted the breach didn’t affect most average taxpayers and the information they file in their annual returns.
Thousands of fraudulent returns were filed under the attack, and final details about the amount the criminals stole is not available, though Mr. Koskinen predicted it will be less than $50 million.
“This is not a security breach. Our basic information is secure,” Mr. Koskinen insisted in a call with reporters to discuss the theft, which he said came from online access by fraudsters, who he described as part of an organized crime syndicate.
The IRS is sending out notices to those they have determined were affected by the breach, and has opened a criminal investigation into the operation.
Mr. Koskinen said the fraudsters were exploiting a specific application, the Get Transcript program, to be able to dig up more information on taxpayers, including their full tax returns dating back five or more years.
The commissioner said they discovered the breach after noticing odd Internet activity from the tax filing season.