Class action complaint filed against IRS over data breach

Texas residents Becky Welborn and Wendy Windrich are named as the plaintiffs in the complaint, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated.
Texas residents Becky Welborn and Wendy Windrich are named as the plaintiffs in the complaint, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced in May that about 114,000 taxpayer accounts were affected in a breach, and then that figure expanded to roughly 330,000 earlier this month – now, a lawsuit has been filed against the government agency.

California law firm McCuneWright, LLP, along with other firms, filed a class action complaint against the IRS on Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, according to a news announcement

Texas residents Becky Welborn and Wendy Windrich are named as the plaintiffs in the complaint, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated.

On Monday, Richard McCune, a partner of McCuneWright, told SCMagazine.com that the complaint serves two purposes: first, to ensure that any security weaknesses have been fixed so that client data is protected, and second, so that anyone impacted in the incident is made whole.

At this juncture McCuneWright will serve the complaint and the IRS will be given the opportunity to file a motion to dismiss it, McCune said, explaining that the court may not determine if the complaint will receive class action status for six to nine months.

McCune said the case is a hard one to predict.

“It is an evolving field where there's not ten years of history to look back at and say this is what's going to happen,” McCune said, noting that the law firm is involved in some other similar cases such as the Intuit tax fraud incident and UCLA Health breach.

The IRS announced in May that criminals used taxpayer-specific data acquired from non-IRS sources – including Social Security information, tax filing statuses, birth dates and street addresses – to gain unauthorized access to information on about 114,000 tax accounts. In August, the IRS said that an additional roughly 220,000 taxpayers may have had data accessed.

The attackers were said to have gained access to the data through the IRS's “Get Transcript” application. The IRS stated that a large number of unsuccessful attempts were made to clear an authentication process, which is why the agency is notifying more than 500,000 taxpayers altogether.

An IRS spokesperson told SCMagazine.com on Monday that it does not comment on pending litigation.

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