Since the GAO had not yet made a decision on the petition, the IRS opted to award a short-term contract to Equifax, citing a belief that no other vendors could provided the ID verification that the IRS needed.
The $7.2 million contract was for Equifax to verify taxpayers' identities and help combat fraud. The nation's largest information technology trade group is urging the government to cancel Equifax's now suspended contract with the IRS.
For what it may be worth, Equifax told Engadget that the malicious download prompts weren't the result of another breach, but rather code from a third-party company Equifax used for site analytics. "Since we learned of the issue, the vendor's code was removed from the webpage and we have taken the webpage offline to conduct further analysis".
We have reached out to Equifax for comment and will update this story if and when they respond.
The incident comes just over a month after Equifax disclosed a massive data breach in which hackers stole the personal information of more than 145 million US consumers.
The company's former CEO blamed a single careless employee for the entire snafu. The alert notes that taxpayers who already have an account can "continue the login process".
Equifax has had a second security breach and that was enough for the IRS to suspend work with the credit reporting bureau under a recent $7.2 million contract extension.
The tax agency stopped short of that, at least for the moment.
Now, Politico notes that the IRS has chose to temporarily back down from this contract after reports emerged that Equifax might have been compromised again. "The contract suspension is being taken as a precautionary step as the IRS continues its review", agency spokesman Matthew Leas said in a statement to Politico. Although people can't create new accounts, current Secure Access users aren't affected by this contract change and will continue to have access to their accounts, the agency said. "I'm pleased that the IRS has temporarily suspended the contract but the 145 million Americans who had their data stolen still need fast and clear answers from Equifax and the IRS", Sasse said in a statement Friday.
The contract suspension will prevent taxpayers from creating new accounts through the IRS's "Secure Access" program that provides access to transcripts and records.