IRS Relaunches “Get Transcript” Online Tool, Promises It’s More Secure

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

A year after the Internal Revenue Service said hackers used stolen Social Security numbers and other information gleaned from the agency’s system in an attempt to access hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ accounts, the agency says that the Get Transcript tool at the heart of the attack is back online.

Get Transcript was taken offline in May 2015 as the agency tried to beef up its security measures. The IRS now says the e-authentication process for the tool is more rigorous, and requires more information than before to gain access to taxpayer accounts.

The new process will significantly increase protection against identity thieves impersonating taxpayers, the IRS says.

Get Transcript now requires a two-step authentication process for all online tools and applications that require a high level of assurance.

To use the new tool, you’ll still need to know all the info about yourself that was previously required — Social Social Security Number, address, filing status — but in addition, you’ll need to provide an email address, a cell phone that can receive text messages, and certain financial account information (a credit card number, or mortgage or home equity loan, auto loan etc.) to further authenticate your identity.

Remember: the IRS won’t ask you for any personal information over the phone or through text messages, the messages are only to send verification codes to authenticate your identity.

“The IRS is committed to the protection of taxpayer information and the security of our systems,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and continue to gather vast amounts of personal information as the result of data breaches at sources outside the IRS. In the face of that threat, we must provide the strongest possible authentication processes while trying to enhance the ability of taxpayers to legitimately access their data and use IRS services online. We recognize that enhanced security will increase the challenge for taxpayers accessing our on-line services.”

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