Tax Guru – Ker$tetter Letter

Helping real people win the tax game.

Posted by taxguru on January 3, 2003

Scandal Waiting To Happen

IRS is promoting its readiness for the upcoming filing season and advertising some improvements to its legendary customer service. A new upcoming feature of their website is the ability to log in and check the status of a refund. It’s not functional yet, as can be seen on the page where it’s supposed to be. While I have always been a big fan of self service functions on the web, such as tracking UPS and FedEx packages, I’m predicting that this won’t be around very long before its lack of privacy controls leads to abuses, such as thefts from mailboxes. All you will need to enter on the IRS website is the name, Social Security number and amount to gain access to what should be confidential information.

As I’ve commented on many times before, the genie has long been out of the bottle in regard to the privacy of Social Security numbers. They are used on so many documents, that it isn’t hard at all for people to have access to that and use it to check on upcoming refund checks. The only solution to this will probably be for IRS to assign taxpayers with a another new ID number that can be kept secret. Social Security numbers are anything but secret. Other security options may be scans of fingerprints or eyeballs, as in the movie Minority Report, in order to verify one’s identity.


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