Thursday

The IRS Hack - We Have Been Let Down Badly

First, the IRS web infrastructure was not hacked, as far as we know; rather, shady types used information from other sources (malware, social media) to trick the IRS online portal into giving out prior tax returns. Tax returns obviously contain a wealth of information, and more that 100,000 of us have had that simply handed over to the bad guys.

The holy grail is the Social Security Number (SSN), which despite all assurances to the contrary has become our de facto "personal ID number"; if someone has that, it's off to the races. It seems to have been almost trivially easy for that to occur in this case, and that is frankly deplorable. While you can get a new SSN under some circumstances, it's an imperfect solution, as your credit will be tied to the old number.

We really need to get to grips with this problem, which is only getting worse. Everyone (banks, hospitals, government) tells us how important our personal information is to them, and yet the leaks keep coming, in the thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions. How many of us have NOT had our information pilfered, at this point? It's a disgraceful breach of trust.

The Government's general position on social security numbers is laid out in this PDF ("Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number")


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