The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has said that personal data of nearly 100,000 taxpayers may have been compromised by a breach of its tool to apply for student financial aid, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) tool was taken offline in March after discovery of suspicious activity, and will be operational only in October.
In a statement to the Senate Finance Committee, IRS chief John Koskinen said 35,000 affected people had been notified of the breach and $30 million been paid for around 8,000 fraudulent tax refunds.
The IRS has come under fire for cutting off the tool and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, urged authorities to “continue to prioritize getting the helpful data-retrieval tool back online quickly with adequate protection for users’ data.”
The agency admits being made aware in September last year that FAFSA could be misused by hackers.
“To shut it down without a clear indication of criminals actually using it seemed to us that it was going to unnecessarily disadvantage millions of people who used it,” Koskinen clarified, says The Wall Street Journal.
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