Records of 100,000 US Taxpayers Hacked

Records of 100,000 US Taxpayers Hacked Records of 100,000 US Taxpayers Hacked

More than 100,000 taxpayers have had their personal tax information stolen from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website as part of an elaborate scheme to claim fraudulent tax refunds. IRS is a government agency responsible for tax collection and tax law enforcement.

The information was stolen from an online system called "Get Transcript," where taxpayers can get tax returns and other tax filings from previous years. In order to access the information, the thieves cleared a security screen that required knowledge about the taxpayer, including social security number, date of birth, tax filing status and street address, the IRS said Tuesday, AP said in a report.

"We're confident that these are not amateurs," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "These actually are organized crime syndicates that not only we, but everybody in the financial industry, are dealing with."

The IRS said it is notifying taxpayers whose information was accessed. The IRS is providing them with credit monitoring services. Koskinen wouldn't say whether investigators believe the criminals are based overseas or where they obtained enough personal information about the taxpayers to access their returns. The IRS has launched a criminal investigation. The agency's inspector general is also investigating.

Identity thieves, both foreign and domestic, have stepped up their efforts in recent years to claim fraudulent tax refunds. The agency estimates it paid out $5.8 billion in fraudulent refunds to identity thieves in 2013.

"Eighty percent of the of the identity theft we're dealing with and refund fraud is related to organized crime here and around the world," Koskinen said. "These are extremely sophisticated criminals with access to a tremendous amount of data."

Koskinen said the agency was alerted to the thieves when technicians noticed an increase in the number of taxpayers seeking transcripts. The IRS said the thieves targeted the system from February to mid-May. The service has been temporarily shut down.