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H&R Block takes online system down after glitch
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Feb 16 (Reuters) - Tax preparation and financial services company H&R Block Inc. said Wednesday that its online tax program has been temporarily shut down after some customers' data wound up in other customers' files.
The problem with the online program affected less than 10 of H&R Block's 300,000 online customers, the company said.
The program was taken offline Monday after the problem was discovered, H&R Block said in a news release. All client data has been securely saved and will be available when the online service is brought back by the weekend, H&R Block said.
"None of the returns which our online clients have filed with the IRS contain incorrect data," Mark Ernst,
H&R Block's president and chief operating officer, said in a news release. "We stand by our guarantee that all returns will be accurate."
H&R Block shares were up 1/8 at 43-1/2 Wednesday
-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), February 16, 2000
February 17, 2000
A handful of H&R Block online customers got an eyeful The tax-preparation firm said a glitch allowed "fewer than 10" people using its Internet site to see others' data.
By Curt Anderson
ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON - H&R Block Inc. sought yesterday to reassure taxpayers about the integrity of its Internet tax-filing system after a glitch that accidentally permitted some people to see others' financial data.
The world's largest tax preparer shut down its online filing system for the week after H&R Block officials said "fewer than 10" customers were able over the weekend to view limited portions of another person's file. Company officials said that the problem was caused as software was updated, and that computer hackers or other outside sources were not to blame.
Nevertheless, the company, which is based in Kansas City, Mo., emphasized yesterday that it did not lose any taxpayer data and that everything should be back to normal for its 300,000 online customers by this weekend. The problem was confined to the online service, the company said.
"None of the returns which our online clients have filed with the IRS contain incorrect data," the president and chief executive officer of H&R Block, Mark A. Ernst, said. "We stand by our guarantee that all returns will be accurate."
While the problem apparently was confined to a small number of people, it quickly gained the attention of competitors and observers concerned that the glitch could reinforce the suspicions of many taxpayers about online-filing privacy.
"Imagine if somebody with evil intent starts nosing around," the president of the National Taxpayers Union, David Keating, said. "It will feed some people's fears about putting information on any online site."
The problem occurred as online tax preparation continued to grow.
Intuit Inc., maker of TurboTax software, coincidentally announced yesterday that more than 875,000 filers had already begun their federal returns through its Internet-based service, compared with only 240,000 for all of last year.
"As the numbers demonstrate, we enable consumers to file online with confidence," the vice president of Intuit Consumer Tax Group, Bob Meighan, said.
To ease the sting while its online system is down, H&R Block is offering free Internet downloads of its TaxCut preparation software for personal computers.
The downloads are available at http://www.hrblock.com,a spokeswoman said.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 18, 2000.