IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is scheduled to appear before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, June 2, to answer questions about the security breach that has affected 200,000 taxpayers.
Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, announced the hearing Wednesday in an official statement, where he stressed the importance of financial web security.
“Taxpayers deserve to know what happened at the IRS regarding the data theft, and this hearing will be the first step of many that the committee takes to determine what happened and how the government can prevent such attacks from happening again,” Hatch said.
Last Tuesday, the IRS announced that a security breach of their taxpayer account database was the subject of a hack on their system. Hackers used taxpayers’ personal information, including Social Security numbers and personal questions, to break into accounts on “Get Transcript,” an IRS web database, and account transactions, tax return info and income data, the agency said on Tuesday.
Koskinen, in a statement, informed taxpayers that the personal information required to access “Get Transcript” was stolen from a third-party source, and that the main IRS database is still safe. In response to the break-in, the IRS has temporarily disabled the online database of tax records and accounts paid, in addition to informing the more than 200,000 whose accounts were touched, whether accessed or not, of their security situation.
As for the 100,000 whose accounts were infiltrated, the IRS is providing free credit monitoring for their accounts and watching their accounts for any additional suspicious activity.
“We’re confident these are not amateurs. These are actually organized crime syndicates that not only we but everyone in the financial industry are dealing with,” Koskinen said, in defense of his organization’s security.
Hatch, whose committee takes an aggressive stance on financial security, was initially angered by the break-in, resulting in his recognition of the need for an investigation. In a statement last Tuesday, Hatch, who was personally called by Koskinen, told the public that “this agency [the IRS] has been repeatedly warned by top government watchdogs that its data security systems are inadequate against the growing threat of international hackers and data thieves,” contrasting Koskinen’s statement that his agency is just as vulnerable as any other financial firm.
In addition to Koskinen, the Finance Committee called J Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration, as a witness to the break-in. The hearing is set for 10 a.m., in the Dirksen Office Building.