The Internal Revenue Service became the subject of public scrutiny when a government investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed that the IRS had turned over the names, social security numbers and addresses of more than 1.4 million U.S. residents to a government contractor whose employees had not undergone background checks back in 2013. If the contractor had utilized corporate screening services to perform checks on its employees, millions of taxpayers’ information might not have been put at risk. The IRS often utilizes contractors for printing, translation, courier and document recovery services. This particular breach occurred when the IRS released a disc of information to a printing company whose employees had not undergone background checks. The breach increases public concern about identity theft, as the IRS has had to deal with several incidences of people filing tax returns and trying to receive refunds using stolen social security numbers. In 2012, this kind of criminal activity resulted in more than $4 billion worth of funds refunded to criminals. With taxpayers’ social security numbers, names and addresses in hand, identity thieves could wreak havoc for thousands of hard-working citizens. While only 34 contracts were active as of May 2013, when the incident occurred, the statement released by the U.S. Treasury estimates that 10,000 private contractors had access to taxpayers’ “sensitive but unclassified” (SBU) information as of January of this year. The IRS does have policies in place that require contract employees to undergo background checks if they have access to SBU information. “IRS policy requires contractor personnel to attain favorable background investigations if their duration of employment exceeds 180 calendar days and they require unescorted access to IRS facilities or work on contracts that involve the design, operation, repair or maintenance of information systems, and/or require access to SBU information,” the report states. However, without the use of corporate screening services for hiring, identity thieves could easily get away with not undergoing any screening at all, provided they remained with the contractor for less than 180 days. Additionally, it is not clear which government department is responsible for background screening, as investigations services fall under several different offices. Of the 34 contracts, five contractors had not required their employees to be screened. Another 20 of the contracts did not require their employees to sign non-disclosure agreements. Whether your company conducts all business internally or works with contractors to accomplish the goals of your business, it is vital that you employ corporate screening services — such as Mind Your Business — to conduct background checks on the people that may have access to company, employee, or private data. For more information about Mind Your Business and the peace of mind background screening can provide, contact us today.]]>
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