The Vermont Department of Taxation (USA) has revealed that the personal and financial data of taxpayers have been leaked due to a security error affecting the online filing site. This bug was discovered on July 2, 2020. The leak data affected all Vermont residents who filed online property tax returns using the tax department's site between February 2017 and July 2020.
The credentials verification for electronically registered property transfer tax returns available to public municipalities archives could be used to access information from tax returns filed in recent months. Additionally, credentials could be used by hackers, in order to access to private information, including the social security number of the buyer of the property and the last four digits of the social security number of the seller of the property.
According to the Vermont U.S. Department of Taxation, when notified of error led to the leak of taxpayer data, immediately deactivated mode which could allow unauthorized "users" to access the tax data of others.
Also, the tax department said in a statement that it understands that knowing the users of its site that their information is secure, is very important for filing taxes, noting that it understands that there will be concern and frustration from taxpayers. However, the department stressed that the security of personal data is its highest priority, while informing taxpayers about the protection measures they must take is crucial.
The department encountered the error preventing the use of municipal records as part of future searches for previously filed property tax returns.
The security notice also states that the department is currently unable to determine whether an individual's data has been accessed or leaked, and has had no reports of unauthorized access to property transfer declarations.
However, although the risk of accessing taxpayer data over the past three years due to this issue should be low, according to the Vermont U.S. Department of Taxation, to those who have filed real estate transfer tax returns online between February 2017 and July 2020, it is recommended that certain measures be taken to protect against possible attempted theft identity.
The list of tips to protect against scam identity theft involves controlling their economic activity for the next two years. They are also advised to:
- To check the state of the bank account and their credit - debit card for the next 1-2 years and immediately report any suspicious activity they detect.
- Contact the local police and file an identity theft report if they find suspicious activity in their financial movement and activity.
- Put a fraud alert on credit files so that creditors can contact them before opening new accounts if they find suspicious activity in their credit reports or other account statements.