IRS gives Equifax $7.25 million to prevent tax fraud

Equifax Headquarters

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It looks like the US government still has faith in Equifax.

Three days before Congress members blasted Equifax for mistakes related to its massive data breach, the IRS awarded the credit monitoring agency with a multi-million dollar contract on Sept. 29.

The IRS will pay Equifax $7.25 million to help verify taxpayer identity and validation for the government agency. The IRS already has enough trouble dealing with tax fraud, losing $5.8 billion to scammers in 2013. And if there’s anybody familiar with cybercrime, it’s Equifax: It said last month a breach of its network security allowed hackers to make off with the personal information for 145.5 million Americans. The hack included names, Social Security numbers, addresses and birthdays

The contract, first reported by Politico, was posted to the Federal Business Opportunities database on Sept. 30. The contract described the agreement as a “sole source order,” calling Equifax’s help a “critical service.”

When it comes to credit-monitoring, there are really only three major names in the US: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Experian has also suffered a breach before. It’s unclear why the IRS went with Equifax. Both Equifax and the IRS did not respond to a request for comment.

While the IRS is willing to trust Equifax again, several members of Congress spent up to three hours criticizing the company for its data breach during a House committee on Energy and Commerce hearing on Tuesday.

Former CEO Richard Smith, who oversaw Equifax during the hack, apologized for the breach and blamed the issues on a single person and a software scanner that failed to find vulnerabilities.

“I’m tired of hearing that almost every month, there’s another security breach,” Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, said during Smith’s testimony.

Smith was also criticized for leaving the company with a “golden parachute,” getting $18.4 million in pension benefits after Equifax’s data disaster.

“If fraudsters destroy my constituents’ savings and financial futures, there is no golden parachutes awaiting them,” said Rep. Ben Lujan, a Democrat from New Mexico.

Even after facing the scorn of several lawmakers, the government is still spending taxpayers’ money on Equifax. Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat from New York, said he was “deeply disturbed” to see the IRS awarding the contract to Equifax after all the controversy surrounding the company.

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