Economy

IRS freezes its fraud prevention contract with Equifax

IRS freezes its fraud prevention contract with Equifax”

Equifax has been under intense scrutiny since disclosing last month it suffered a massive hack that may have exposed personal information for roughly half the USA population.

Equifax has had a second security breach and that was enough for the IRS to suspend work with the credit reporting bureau under a recent $7.2 million contract extension. The nation's largest information technology trade group is urging the government to cancel Equifax's now suspended contract with the IRS. The Equifax site was maliciously manipulated again, this time to deliver fraudulent Adobe Flash updates, which when clicked, infected visitors' computers with adware that was detected by just three of 65 antivirus providers. Sign ups for Secure Access accounts have been suspended as a result, but anybody who already has one will not be affected. But even as he was getting grilled in Congress earlier this month, the IRS was awarding the company with a no-bid contract to provide "fraud prevention and taxpayer identification services".

The report goes on to say that this short-term suspension will mean new accounts can not be opened through the Secure Access program.

The message ends by saying "We apologize for any inconvenience".

Equifax revealed last month that hackers made off with a virtual treasure trove of financial data from as many as 145 million people in the U.S., including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses of customers.

As is standard operating procedure, the IRS extended Equifax's contract until the protest is resolved because the agency was still in need of those services. The IRS says that the suspension is a "precautionary" measure as it continues to investigate the security of Equifax's systems. "During this suspension, the IRS will continue its review of Equifax systems and security".

The IRS actually awarded its authentication service contract to another company in July, Jeffrey Tribiano, the agency's deputy commissioner for operations support told members of Congress. Until then, the IRS can not move onto its new partner.

"Equifax is known publicly to have security breaches, and they are not correcting them", said Barbara Rembiesa, president and CEO of the International Association of IT Asset Managers, which represents 50,000 IT managers in 126 countries.

Koskinen then pushed back, telling senators that doing so would prevent thousands of hurricane victims from accessing tax information.



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