IRS' e-File PIN Program Disrupted By Cyber Criminals

Posted by: Brookside Admin

e-File taxes on smartphone

For the past couple of years, the IRS has launched a number of initiatives to combat identity theft and cyber-crime as it relates to tax returns being filed electronically. Part of those efforts included use of an e-File PIN program, which offered an additional layer of protection and authentication for taxpayers through a unique 5-digit code. Nearly all commercial tax return software products use e-File PINs. 

Recent attacks against the program and theft of users' PINs, however, have led to the IRS abandoning the program. 

The trouble began in February when more than 100 thousand PINs were stolen from the IRS. By themselves, the PINs don't give access to a taxpayer's personal information. They can, however, be combined with stolen social security numbers to enable access to nearly all the information included on an individual's tax return. 

In addition to the February attack, the IRS says they've "observed additional automated attacks taking place at an increasing frequency." Because of that, the eFile PINs began to create more of a risk than a protection. 

This isn't the first failed PIN program meant to protect taxpayers' identities, or even the first to be shut down prematurely this year. In March, the Identity Protection PIN tool was also abandoned due to repeated attacks and malicious use. Those six digit codes were also stolen in large numbers from the IRS and subsequently used to submit 800 fradulent tax returns. 

In May, the IRS took additional action to combat actions like these by launching a cybercrime prevention unit. The group's goal includes protecting taxpayers from identity theft, and the misuse of stolen social-security numbers. 

Before submitting next year's tax return, come see the CPAs at Brown Kinion and Company. We'll help ensure your return is accurate and submitted on time with all available deductions claimed. Contact us at our offices in South Tulsa / Bixby, and Broken Arrow.