WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — In May 2015, the IRS acknowledged that cyber-thieves had accessed 114.000 sets of taxpayer information but on Monday the agency acknowledged that the same cyber-attackers might well have accessed the data on another 220,000 people, The Hill newspaper reported.
IRS admitted that it believed it had prevented at least another 170,000 schemes to access to and steal its taxpayer data, according to the newspaper.
"In all, the new information means that the breach was at least more than twice as big as originally reported," The Hill pointed out.
On Monday, the IRS said it only discovered the 220,000 probably successful hacks and the new 170,000 apparently unsuccessful ones after what it described as "a deeper dive" into its own IT records that analyzed more than 23 million uses of the service’s systems, the report stated.
The IRS added it was "moving aggressively to protect taxpayers whose account information may have been accessed."
The IRS also announced it would provide free monitoring of credit status to all the taxpayers whose information was compromised, and it is taking steps to warn all 390,000 of the households they have now discovered were also targeted, The Hill said.
"Cyber thieves were able to break through the IRS's ‘Get Transcript’ system, which houses previous tax returns and other sensitive information," the newspaper noted. "The agency shut down the system in May, after the breach was first discovered."
The massive hacks may have been part of a greater plan to steal refunds due to taxpayers during the 2016 filing season, the report concluded.