The IRS issued a statement on Tuesday, February 9 that it had identified and halted an automated cyberattack that occurred in January of this year. The attack was on the electronic filing IP-PIN (Identity Protection Personal Identification Number) application on the IRS.gov website. The personal data used was stolen from sources outside the IRS, but the identity thieves used malware in an attempt to generate e-file PINs for the stolen social security numbers (SSNs).
The IP-PIN program allows eligible taxpayers to use a six-digit identification number provided by the IRS in lieu of their social security numbers to electronically file their tax returns. Eligible taxpayers at this point include only those who are 1) victims of tax identity theft, 2) residents of the District of Columbia, Georgia and Florida, and 3) individuals who have received an application to register for a PIN.
The IRS statement noted, “No personal taxpayer data was compromised or disclosed by IRS systems. The IRS also is taking immediate steps to notify affected taxpayers by mail that their personal information was used in an attempt to access the IRS application. The IRS is also protecting their accounts by marking them to protect against tax-related identity theft.”
The IRS also added that it has identified unauthorized attempts involving approximately 464,000 unique SSNs, of which 101,000 SSNs were used to successfully access an E-file PIN.