The Internal Revenue Service had reported in May that identity thieves were able to use the agency’s Get Transcript program to access personal information on as many as 114,000 taxpayers.
Today, the agency says the hack was nearly three times as bad, with 334,000 accounts accessed. However, it is not known whether information was stolen from every one of the accounts.
The hackers broke through an IRS application called Get Transcript, which allows users to view their tax account transactions, line-by-line tax return information or wage and income reported to the IRS for a specific tax year.
To enter the Get Transcript system, the user must correctly answer several identity-verification questions.
The hackers took information about taxpayers acquired from other sources and used it to correctly answer the questions. The Get Transcript service was shut down in May.
“The IRS takes the security of taxpayer data extremely seriously, and we are working to continue to strengthen security for “Get Transcript,” including by enhancing taxpayer-identity authentication protocols,” the agency said in a news release.
The IRS said it will mail letters to the taxpayers whose accounts may have been accessed and will provide free credit monitoring services. The agency said there was an additional 170,000 suspected failed attempts to access the application.
The agency further states that “some of this information may have been gathered for potentially filing fraudulent tax returns during the upcoming 2016 filing season so anyone receiving a letter should take steps to protect themselves by taking advantage of the free credit monitoring and IP PIN which can be used to verify the authenticity of next year’s tax return.”