Paying your taxes online in the US is about to get a whole lot more difficult as the IRS has revealed that taxpayers' existing credentials will no longer work beginning this summer.
Instead, the government agency is partnering with a third-party identity verification service called ID.me that requires users to submit copies of bills and other identity documents though they will also have to submit a live video feed of their faces using a mobile device.
First launched back in 2010, Virginia-based ID.me was originally created to help ecommerce sites validate the identities of customers like veterans, teachers and students who might be eligible for discounts at online retailers. Now though, the company is widely known for providing US states with online identity verification services to help them deal with unemployment fraud.
According to KrebsOnSecurity, around 27 states currently use ID.me to screen for identity thieves applying for benefits in someone else's name. Unlike other online verification services, ID.me requires applicants to submit even more documents including copies of utility bills and details about their mobile phone service in addition to scans of their driver's license or other government-issued IDs.
If an applicant doesn't have the documents required by ID.me or their application triggers a potential fraud flag, the company may require a recorded, live video chat with the person applying for benefits.
As Brian Krebs' credentials at the IRS will soon no longer work just like the rest of American taxpayers, he decided to create an ID.me account and found the process to be quite lengthy and tiresome. For instance, Krebs stepped away for just five minutes and had to login again as well as re-submit the documents he had previously uploaded.
After entering your email and choosing a strong password, users are then prompted to confirm their email address. Following this, ID.me then prompts users to choose a multi-factor authentication (MFA) method. Fortunately, the service supports several different MFA options including a six-digit code sent via text, a phone call to code generator apps and physical security keys that support the FIDO (Fast ID Online) security specifications.
From here, users need to upload the necessary documents and if they are accepted, ID.me will then prompt you to take a live selfie using your smartphone or your computer's webcam. The company then verifies your phone number but Krebs reported that his application got stuck at the “Confirming Your Phone” stage.
Preventing fraud is certainly something the IRS should be doing but by requiring users to submit additional documents and biometric data to a third-party company, the agency is making the process of filing your taxes more difficult for US citizens. At the same time, if ID.me falls victim to a data breach, cybercriminals will have more than enough information to commit identity theft.
We'll have to wait and see how the IRS' rollout of using ID.me to verify taxpayers identities goes but given the difficulties Krebs had getting verified, it has the potential to be a real pain for US citizens this summer.