From Sovreign Dave: Folks: The IRS lost some records in Kansas City . In confusion there is always profit.

Everybody is concerned over ID theft but rare are the cases of ID theft when simple Christian names are used. Why? Because everybody knows names are not unique hence the ID of a name is not unique. But that is not the case with SSN's. So why would anyone be concerned over loosing something not yours to begin with? “Not my job man” to keep track of something the govt putz's encouraged so much usage-of that it is now coming back to bite them! Especially when usage of that number subjects one to all kinds of FRAUD.  

Pay attention to the last paragraph. What happens if 1000 “illegals” use the same SSN and the IRS gets 1000 reports saying your worked 1000 jobs all at the same time? In confusion there is profit….

news article to send to IRS and DOR pertaining to their attempted use to hearsay evidence on the income figures.

IRS looses tapes...millions might be affected

Read the original article from the Kansas City Star.

In what may turn out to be another massive loss of the public's private information Kansas City has lost 26 computer tapes from the IRS containing sensitive taxpayer information. Though the IRS is not saying how many taxpayers may be affected the number could be in the millions.

Kansas City officials aren't saying much about the loss of the tapes. Perhaps they're afraid of a repeat of the circus that surrounded the Veterans Affairs stolen laptop. So at this point it is hard to say how many tax payers may be affected. If the lost tapes were old 9-track reel tapes each could hold up to 140mb of data, multiply that times 26 and you get 3.6 gigs of data. But if the lost tapes were more modern DLT tapes each tape might hold up to 160 gigs of data, or over 4 terabytes! The average tax return produced by the tax preparation software Taxcut is a file size of less than 150kb, so we're talking over 26.6 million taxpayer's returns could be on those tapes. Almost the exact number of people who's information was contained on that VA laptop (which by the way had a hard drive much smaller than 4 terabytes). Of course if the lost tapes were the old 9-track reel tapes the number of people affected could be as few as 24,000. This assumes the entire tax return was contained on the tapes. If only basic information (eg; Name, Social Security number, income, taxes paid, and address) was on the old style tapes the number of people affected could still be over 1.7 million people (140mb x 26 tapes / 2k per person record). Either way we are still talking about a lot of people that now need to worry about their credit reports.

Update : Apparently the IRS uses mostly 800mb data cartridge tapes and 9-track reel tapes, with clear text ASCII records for distribution (full tape and record specifications are available online). So at 2kb per data record the tapes could hold information on up to 10 million people. It is doubtful that all 26 tapes were full but until the IRS tells us what was on the tapes we can only speculate.

A city official said that the tapes were “written in an uncommon programming language and require special equipment”. Lets examine that statement. The tapes were not written in an uncommon programming language, they may have been written by an uncommon programming language. There is a difference. If the data on the tapes was put there by an old Cobal program, or some other legacy program then its probably in clear text (even if the data is EBCDIC encoded it can be easily converted to modern ASCII characters).. The data records would be very easy to piece back together as each record would be delimited by something unique (eg; four “n”s followed by a linefeed character). In this case the point about it being in an “uncommon programming language” works against the privacy of the information, not for it. The reference to “Special Equipment” still means some type of tape drive. From the official's statement it sounds like something old, and in his mind obscure. But just because you can't buy the tape drive at your local computer store doesn't mean they aren't readily available. Legacy 9-track reel drives can still be purchased new , or used on eBay. They're also often available at military surplus auctions. Many have standard SCSI or even serial interfaces so connecting them to a modern computer is not difficult. Obtaining one these drives and getting it to work with a PC would well be worth the bad guys time and money for even a few thousand Social Security numbers. A Social Security number with name and address can retail for up to $500 each .

This is another case of “security through obscurity is no security at all”. If these tapes are not recovered soon the IRS needs to notify the public of who was affected by this loss so that they can start watching their credit reports. ( Identity Theft Victims: Immediate Steps ). The tapes have been mising since August and they've been searching for them since late December. Maybe it is time for the IRS to tell the public what was on those tapes.

Because everyone involved is currently being tight lipped about the issue it is hard to say how many people (or who) need to worry. But it is clear we have another big loss of private data to contend with and that many government agencies still aren't properly safeguarding our information that is entrusted to them.

Ironically the first indication you may have that your private information lost by the IRS was used illegally is when you get a letter from the IRS asking you for unpaid taxes on income earned by an illegal alien who used your Social Security number to obtain a job.