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IRS awards $7.25 Million Contract for Fraud Protection to Equifax

irs

By Debbie Gregory.

Equifax is set to receive $7.25 million to help the IRS identify taxpayers and prevent fraud under a no-bid contract. Equifax is currently embroiled in a massive security breach that exposed the personal information of some 145 million Americans.

The IRS said that it needed to outsource this work because it’s handling a dispute on a different contract that affects its ability to fulfill these duties.

According to the Federal Business Opportunities database, the contract is a “sole source order,” meaning Equifax is the only company deemed capable of providing the service.

The partnership between the IRS and Equifax has received bipartisan displeasure from both sides of the aisle. Lawmakers feel that it is irresponsible for the IRS to turn over millions in taxpayer dollars to a company that in the midst of one of the most massive data breaches in a decade.

“The Finance Committee will be looking into why Equifax was the only company to apply for and be rewarded with this,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR.) “I will continue to take every measure possible to prevent taxpayer data from being compromised as this arrangement moves forward.”

The IRS took a defensive position, saying that Equifax told the agency that none of its data was involved in the breach.

Equifax already provides similar services to the IRS under a previous contract.

While Equifax’s September data breach has mostly subsided, but the actual damage will play out for years. Attackers initially got into the customer portal through a vulnerability in the Apache Struts platform, an open-source web application. Apache disclosed and patched the relevant vulnerability some six months earlier.

Additionally, Equifax stored sensitive consumer information in plain text rather than encrypting it.

Equifax is one of three major credit reporting bureaus whose data determine consumer credit. This includes the credit information for those trying to qualify for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, etc.

Do you think the IRS made the right decision?

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Equifax Credit Agency Hack Could Hit Servicemembers Especially Hard

ID theft

By Debbie Gregory.

On September 7th,  Equifax Credit Agency has revealed that a “cybersecurity incident” has potentially exposed the personal information of 143 million Americans

Equifax, one of the nation’s big three credit reporting agencies, experienced an online security breach. While a large number of American civilians could potentially be adversely impacted, active-duty service members are twice as likely to have their identities stolen.

“Stealing sensitive information about members of the military, particularly those deployed from their normal duty station, doesn’t just raise national security concerns,” said Consumer Federation of America senior fellow Rohit Chopra. “ It can also create financial nightmares for servicemembers and their families.”

What we know so far is:

  • Criminals exploited a U.S.-based website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files
  • Unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017
  • Information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers
  • Credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers and certain dispute documents for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed

“Since active-duty service members frequently move due to Permanent Change of Station orders, this can make it even harder to quickly learn if they’ve had their identities stolen,” Chopra wrote.

All three major consumer credit reporting agencies,  Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, each have a web page where service members can request an Active Duty Alert on their credit report. This will last for one year and is renewable.

Another step we all can take is a credit freeze. This allows you to seal your credit reports and use a personal identification number (PIN) that only you know and can use to temporarily “thaw” your credit when legitimate applications for credit and services need to be processed.

The added layer of security means that thieves can’t establish new credit in your name even if they are able to obtain your personal information.

Freezing your credit files has no impact whatsoever on your existing lines of credit, such as credit cards. You can continue to use them as you regularly would even when your credit is frozen.

The cost typically ranges from about $3 to $10 per person per bureau to freeze a credit report, although some states don’t charge a fee. On September 9th, Equifax tweeted that it will waive the fee for freezes for 30 days.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.