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464,000 stolen Social Security numbers used in automated attack on IRS

464,000 stolen Social Security numbers used in automated attack on IRS
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

You may not love the Internal Revenue Service. Especially this time of year, as you're about to hand over more of your hard-earned money to the IRS, the government agency is hard to love.

Yet, you also have to admire the IRS's emphatic efforts to warn taxpayers and tax preparers about cybercrime. It's very real, so you need to protect yourself.

With 120 million people expected to file their taxes electronically this year, cybercriminals are salivating. They're also already attacking.

That includes a massive attack last month on the IRS's website, IRS.gov. Using 464,000 Social Security numbers that had been stolen elsewhere, cybercriminals tried to create E-File PINs.

But there's more, much more.

E-Pins are the personal identification numbers that some people use to file their federal taxes. Cybercriminals like them because they can file fraudulent tax returns, and collect your tax refund.

More frightening, these cybercriminals successfully used 101,000 of those stolen SSNs, malware and automated bots to create E-File PINs. No personal data was stolen, according to the IRS.

However, the IRS is informing people that their SSNs have been stolen and that they're being used for illegal purposes. "The IRS is also protecting their accounts by marking them to protect against tax-related identify theft," says the IRS.

"IRS cybersecurity experts are currently assessing the situation, and the IRS is working closely with other agencies and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The IRS also is sharing information with its Security Summit state and industry partners."

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Source: NBC News
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