Privacy is a luxury nowadays and news in the media is here only to lay some more truth cards on the table. More than 100.000 tax payers have gotten their personal tax information stolen from the IRS website, part of a mischievous scheme to claim fraudulent tax refunds.
The era of internet provides complete freedom and data efficiency but it seems that everything has a price these days. All our private data becomes exposed whenever integrated online databases gather personal information, making all our data vulnerable to hacking and theft.
This is exactly what happened a few days ago, when information was stolen from an online system called “Get Transcript”. There, taxpayers are allowed to sign in and share their personal data to get tax returns and other tax filings from previous years.
Thieves have managed to clear all the security gateways that required information about the taxpayer, including the social security no, date of birth, tax filing status and street address. This is quite a batch of personal details, one may say, but in the world of online information, everything is possible.
This is a grand theft executed by experts who know the language of internet in small details. The IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen declared that “these actually are organized crime syndicates that not only we, but everybody in the financial industry, are dealing with”.
The cybercrooks have done a great job in stealing all the specific data to gain unauthorized access to the tax-agency accounts and they have been doing this since February. There have been more than 104.000 information leaks that have provided access to earlier returns. Additional 1000.000 attempts to steal information for illegal purposes proved to be unsuccessful.
IRS has now launched a criminal investigation to catch the hackers who will most probably continue with their illegal actions. The financial losses are dramatic, with more than $5.8 billion leaked in fraudulent refunds to identity thieves since 2013. Organized crime happens in all corners of the world and it targets national treasuries that can provide large amounts of money. The criminals work with highly sophisticated data structures, allowing them to break privacy barriers and have access to important data that can guide the way to illegal income.
However, illegal attempts happen all the time all around the world, but high institutions like IRS must offer a valid explanation on how this could happen to such an uncompromising institution. Protecting private data should be their priority, along with taking all the safety measures to avoid such dramatic thefts.