The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealed on Monday that the hack disclosed to the public in May is bigger in scope than initially believed. According to the IRS, tax information belonging to thousands of other U.S. taxpayers have been stolen during the hack. The purpose of these cyberhits appears to be money related, as hackers have been using the information to generate fraudulent tax returns.
According to the IRS, on top of the 114,000 accounts that have been accessed by criminals, 220,000 additional data breaches were registered, as well as at least 170,000 suspected failed attempts to steal information.
“The IRS believes some of this information may have been gathered for potentially filing fraudulent tax returns during the upcoming 2016 filing season,” the agency said in a statement.
The IRS will soon mail letters to the affected taxpayers, Reuters reports, informing them about the breach, and offering them free credit monitoring and a new personal identification number to verify the authenticity of next year’s tax returns.
The hackers apparently sought to obtain access to personal tax information using the “Get Transcript” online app, which allows taxpayers to call up information from previous returns.
Following the May breach, some 15,000 fraudulent returns were processed for the 2015 tax filing season, which may have generated up to $50 million in refunds.
The IRS’ full announcement is available at this link.