The massive hacking of Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, could have a catastrophic impact on next year’s tax season with the returns of over 100 million Americans now at risk, according to a warning to the IRS and Treasury Department.
The hacking revealed the Social Security numbers of some 143 million Americans, making them extremely vulnerable to tax filing fraud, and the loss of their checks, which this year averaged $3,120.
In a letter to Treasury, the president of Citizens Against Government Waste warned of the potential problem and urged the Internal Revenue Service the beef up its IT security to block the hackers from filing fraudulent returns.
“The hack of the credit reporting agency Equifax, revealed on September 7, 2017, exposed the personal information – including Social Security numbers – of 143 million U.S. customers. During the 2017 tax season, these individuals will be at an increased risk of having their tax returns stolen and the IRS’s outdated legacy IT systems will only heighten the threat,” wrote Tom Schatz.
His group is a driver among those pushing the administration to stop wasting money on outdated IT systems and buy commercially.
In his letter, he said the exit of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen this month should act as a “natural inflection point” to dump the bloated and over budget IT fixes he oversaw. Schatz cited a Treasury Inspector General’s report that found that the current system “missed 54,175 fraudulent returns totaling $313 million.”