The Internal Revenue Service announced this week that about 104,000 tax payers’ sensitive data were leaked to hackers after a series of recent cyber attacks. The agency also disclosed that hackers currently know the Social Security numbers, e-mails, addresses, dates of birth, data on mortgages, college loans, ID of their employers, and many more.
The IRS cautioned that hackers may try and contact people affected by the data breach. The incident had already cost the government more than $50 million in fake refunds, officials said.
The IRS announced that they would start sending letters to all 104,000 taxpayers affected by the data breach with precise instructions on what to do next.
The agency also said that it would use only the U.S. mail to send the letters, so tax payers should avoid talking with people that claim they are from the IRS via e-mail or phone service.
Cyber security experts explained that hackers can now design a very IRS-look-a-like e-mail account to try and obtain new funds from the victims of the data breach. So, be wary – the IRS won’t contact you about the data breach via e-mail, nor will it try to reach you by phone.
So, you should delete any e-mail you receive about the data breach before you click on any link in it even if it says it is from the IRS, the bank, a store, or federal investigators. Hackers use links in such e-mails to infest your computer with malicious software that can further compromise your personal information, experts said.
Hackers can now also contact about 100,000 people which they were not able to steal precious data from to gain that info from their rightful owners.
The IRS urges taxpayers to not provide any information on their Social Security numbers, bank accounts, address etc. through the phone or e-mail. Moreover, if the call or e-mail looks suspicious you should contact the IRS at 800-829-1040.
The FBI announced Thursday that it started an official investigation into the IRS data breach. The IRS’s criminal division is also conducting a separate investigation.
According to authorities, the data of 104,000 U.S. tax payers was stolen between March and mid-May from a webpage on the IRS’s website named “Get Transcript.” Under that page, tax payers could obtain legit tax filings and refunds from past years.
However, the data breach may be more serious than initially though, since beside those 104,000 people whose data was clearly stolen, 100,000 more were eyed by the hackers although their sensitive data was not yet compromised.
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