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IRS Commissioner Warns Of Threats From Cybercriminals

Identity thieves getting more sophisticated in hacking IRS systems, John Koskinen says

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen told the Senate Finance Committee this week that cybercriminals are becoming “increasingly sophisticated” in their efforts to attack IRS systems, which are especially at risk during tax season.

"We need to be able to anticipate the criminals' next moves, and attempt to stay ahead of them. We need to keep the criminals out while letting the legitimate taxpayers in," Koskinen told the committee. "The reality is criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are gathering vast amounts of personal information as the result of data breaches at sources outside the IRS,” he added.

Cyber attackers have been aggressively targeting the IRS over past two years. In May of last year, attackers abused security weaknesses in IRS’s application "Get Transcript" to gather information about 390,000 taxpayers as a way to fashion fake returns. But the agency says it stopped payment on 1.4 million fraudulent returns filed last year by identity thieves, preventing the loss of $8.7 billion in stolen tax refunds, according to the NBC News.

The agency has received $290 million in funding to strengthen its information security and ID theft protection systems and to improve taxpayer services.

For more information, read the NBC News article.