AL woman notified of IRS information compromise - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

AL woman notified of IRS information compromise

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The former employee is one of thousands whose personal information may be at risk. The former employee is one of thousands whose personal information may be at risk.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

An Alabama woman opened the mail Thursday morning to learn her personal information was compromised by an incident involving the IRS, in a problem that may go back as far as 2007.

Carrie Elaswad said what she thought was a letter about her tax filing turned out to be something she calls "scary."

The letter states that while safeguarding personal information is priority number one for the IRS, her information was potentially compromised. It goes on to say steps are being taken to protect her and she will be given a free year of identity theft protection.

A spokesperson for the IRS declined to confirm or deny what the letter entails exactly, citing confidentiality reasons. However, they would confirm that there was a data security issue dating back to 2007, involving a former employee taking a thumb drive with names, addresses and Social Security numbers.

Elaswad said it's enough to make her feel violated. "It's scary. I don't know what they are going to do. There is too much going on in my life to worry about what they screwed up on," she said.

Most folks in Alabama will not be getting a similar letter, because the breach only affects people who work for or previously worked for the IRS. Elaswad confirmed she was a former IRS employee in Pennsylvania. The large majority of these notifications are going out to people in northeastern states.

Elaswad said although she's been offered identity theft monitoring, it's not enough in her opinion. "This is a band-aid, and I need more information," she said.

An IRS spokesperson reiterated that this was not a problem with their network or systems, but rather an isolated incident involving one employee. The spokesperson sent a statement, released Tuesday, which says:

The IRS informed employees [Tuesday] of a data security issue that has recently been discovered. The information at issue, which we presently believe dates back to 2007 or earlier, included IRS employee-related information and not general taxpayer information or records. The incident stems from an employee's use of an unencrypted thumb drive and does not involve a third-party breach of any of our systems. This was not a problem with our network or systems, but rather an isolated instance. We are working cooperatively with TIGTA, as it continues its review of this matter and will take appropriate action.

At this point, we have no direct evidence to indicate this personal information has been used for identity theft or other inappropriate uses. The IRS strongly believes this situation could not occur in today's environment, because starting in 2008 we added automatic encryption for any external portable devices attached to our systems.

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