Wednesday, April 04, 2007

IRS Found Lax in Protecting Taxpayer Data

Kathleen Day writes in The Washington Post:

Thousands of taxpayers could be at risk of identity theft or other financial fraud because the Internal Revenue Service has failed to adequately protect information on its 52,000 laptop computers and other storage systems, a new government report concludes.

The IRS did not begin to adequately correct the security problems until the second half of 2006, despite being warned about them in 2003 and again in February 2006, according to a report by the inspector general of the IRS, J. Russell George.

"If taxpayers don't feel their personal information is protected, that could make them less likely to voluntarily file their taxes," said assistant inspector general Margaret E. Begg, whose auditing office studied IRS security policies and practices in place from January 2003 through mid-June 2006.

Nearly 500 IRS laptops were lost or stolen during that 3 1/2 -year period, many from the homes or cars of IRS workers but a significant number -- 111 -- from IRS offices, the report found. The IRS says one laptop typically contains information on 10 to 25 tax cases.

More here.


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