Did you ever mess up so bad that you allowed sensitive information belonging to over 140 million people to get stolen and potentially used for identity theft? Don’t worry – you might still be eligible to get a multimillion-dollar contract from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Despite the fact that Equifax committed one of the most damaging and embarrassing cybersecurity blunders in history, the credit reporting agency will receive $7.25 million from the IRS to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud, Politico reported.
The contract, which was issued last week and posted to the Federal Business Opportunities database on the final day of the last fiscal year, was described as a “sole source order,” which means that the government agency deemed Equifax the only company able to provide the service it sought.
The IRS’s decision elicited outrage from lawmakers – both Republicans and Democrats – who felt that handing over such a task to Equifax in its current state is absurd.
“In the wake of one of the most massive data breaches in a decade, it’s irresponsible for the IRS to turn over millions in taxpayer dollars to a company that has yet to offer a succinct answer on how at least 145 million Americans had personally identifiable information exposed,” said Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
On the other side of the aisle, ranking committee member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) vowed that he will “continue to take every measure to prevent taxpayer data from being compromised as this arrangement moves forward” and promised a Finance Committee investigation.
In its own defense, the IRS claimed that Equifax already provides similar services to the agency under another contract and proved that none of its data was exposed in the breach.
“Following an internal review and on-site visit with Equifax, the IRS believes that the service Equifax provided does not pose a risk to IRS data or systems,” the IRS said in a statement. “At this time, we have seen no indications of tax fraud related to the Equifax breach, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation.”