Clarification: Our expert says information obtained from the data breaches may not contain social security numbers or other sensitive information, but it does allow the hackers to find what they need to file these false returns.
KSDK - Identity thieves are using the personal information and social security numbers they got from data breaches last year to file more fake tax returns. The IRS said in the fiscal year 2013, identity theft related criminal investigations went up 66 percent. Ethical hacker Vinny Troia said buying SSN online is common and easy.
Somebody got a hold of Sierra's social security number. She called the IRS when she didn't get her refund.
She was told she'd already cashed the refund. That's how she found out she was a victim of identity theft. The IRS told her somebody outside of Missouri had her SSN and had used it an an American Airlines Counter. She's never even flown in a plane before.
"There are plenty of underground websites where you can go and literally purchase the numbers in bulk. The majority of the websites are located in Russia and run by these underground crime rings," Troia said.
He said the data breaches gave hackers a plethora of personal information to file fake tax returns.
"I think it's 100 percent of the way the information is getting out there.The majority of people who have their drivers license at this point have their info on one of these websites," he said.
The IRS gave Sierra a unique passcode. She needs it now before she can access any personal financial information.
The agency told her it will take six months to find out who stole her identity.
You can find the IRS number to call for identity fraud at this IRS site website: http://1.usa.gov/1lElA9W
Thieves are filing false tax returns, stealing refunds from potentially thousands of people in the St. Louis area.