The Internal Revenue Service tool that allows user to fill out their Free Application which is intended for Federal Student may have been compromised and nearly 100,000 taxpayers data is at the risk of falling in the wrong hands. John Koskinen, IRS commissioner, admitted this before the Senate Finance Committee.
The tool in question was taken offline in March, much to the surprise of the applicants. Officials say that this will once again be made available by October of this year. How is the IRS taking responsibility? Koskinen says that they have already sent out about 35,000 letters, notifying the people whose data may have been compromised as a result of the breach.
The IRS already knew even last September that the risk of the tools being used for heinous purposes was probable says Koskinen. He also admitted that about 8,000 fraudulent refunds amounting to $30 million had been issued. He also added that some of the legitimate ones on the other hand were flagged as being phony.
In a report from The Wall Street Journal, the commissioner said that shutting down the tool without a clear indication of criminal usage would have inconvenienced millions of people who used it. There are already several student-advocacy groups that are questioning the IRS and the Education Department’s Federal Student Aid office decision for taking down the tool temporarily.
The IRS already provided to the members of the Finance Committee, including the members of the House and Senate education committees confidential briefings on the suspension of the tool.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lamar Alexander who is a Republican of Tennessee, wrote a statement that strongly persuades the Federal Student Aid office to focus on getting the data-retrieval tool back online as soon as possible while maintaining the security of the users.
The top Democrat on education committee Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said in a written statement that while she was happy that there are now steps being implemented to protect the privacy of users, she expressed her concerns that there really was no immediate solution for those who have been affected.