During the National Public Liaison (NPL) Practitioner meeting in September, the IRS discussed the extent of the Equifax data breach, its implications in terms of tax-related identity theft, and the safeguards in place.
It is estimated that roughly 143 million taxpayers are affected. According to IRS, the data breach exposed names, SSNs and mailing addresses; however, this information would likely not be very helpful when attempting to file a falsified return. Thanks to the Security Summit — the unprecedented partnership between the IRS, state tax agencies, and the private-sector tax industry — 37 data point filters were instituted and new processes are in place to prevent the processing of a return without additional filing information.
The IRS clarified at the time of the NPL meeting that affected or compromised taxpayers should only contact the IRS using Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if they know for a fact that someone is attempting to use their data for refund fraud and not if their information was included in the data obtained by the hackers during the breach. The IRS will release updates on the breach when more information is available.
Meanwhile, taxpayers who believe their data has been compromised would be well-advised to take precautionary measures to protect their data and monitor their credit reports.
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