WASHINGTON – As the federal income tax filing deadline approaches, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) told the House Small Business Committee today that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must be more vigilant in protecting taxpayers’ personal information from identity thieves.
“As tax season heats up, so too does tax fraud season,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “In testimony before this Committee last year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen reported that a cyber breach had exposed taxpayer data from over 700,000 accounts. Commissioner Koskinen also told us that IRS computer systems are under constant attack from would-be hackers to the tune of 1 million attempted cyberattacks per day.”
“Criminals are becoming ever more sophisticated and ruthless in the ways they commit tax identity theft and file fraudulent returns with ill-gotten personal information. At a minimum, the goal of the IRS must be to make this crime harder, not easier, for identity thieves to commit,” Chairman Chabot explained.
“The Largest Most Pervasive Scam in the History of Our Agency”
“Since the fall of 2013, a significant amount of our Office of Investigations’ workload has consisted of investigating a telephone impersonation scam in which more than 1.9 million intended victims have received unsolicited telephone calls from individuals falsely claiming to be IRS or Department of the Treasury employees,” testified J. Russell George, Inspector General of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). “The callers demand money under the pretense that the victim owes unpaid taxes. To date, over 10,300 victims have purportedly paid more than $55 million to these criminals. The telephone impersonation scam continues to be one of TIGTA’s top priorities; it has also landed at the top of the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” tax scams. The numbers of complaints we have received about this scam have cemented its status as the largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of our agency. It has claimed victims in every State.”
“We at TIGTA take seriously our mandate to provide independent oversight of the IRS in its administration of our Nation’s tax system. As such, we plan to provide continuing audit coverage of the IRS’s efforts to identify and detect identity theft and provide assistance to victims,” George concluded.
You can view full video of today’s hearing HERE and read full written testimony HERE.
If you believe you or someone you know has been the victim of an IRS Impersonation Scam, you can report it on the TIGTA website HERE.