We all have lots to do, and few of us can afford an IRS security audit. With the tax filing season around the corner, and identity theft on the rise, the IRS and its Summit partners remind the tax pros to review their security measures using their checklist. The checklist (Data Safeguard for Tax Professionals) helps tax professionals identify the basic steps they should take to safeguard their clients’ and their business’ sensitive information.
Data Safeguard for Tax Professionals
The Taxes-Security-Together Checklist is designed to help you evaluate your existing security practices and identify the basic steps you can take to safeguard your clients’ information. Tally up your security measures with the ten steps of the IRS and Security Summit partners’ Taxes-Security-Together Checklist. See www.irs.gov/datasafeguard for more information.
Instead of a lengthy password to remember, tax professionals can download an authentication app to their mobile phone. These authentication apps generate a security code that the IRS will accept as indication of the person’s identity. The code may also go to email or text, but sending text messages is not as secure as using an authentication app.
Virtual Private Networks
A VPN encrypts traffic over the internet and tunneling it through an encrypted connection to the company network, protecting data like a firewall. Every year, companies face consumer privacy concerns as more employees work remotely or telecommute. If a client contacts a tax professional through email or chat, adding encryption to those channels could protect sensitive data against cyber thieves who could use VPN networks without encryption to gain access to entire office networks.
A recent scam email targets tax pros by seeking EFIN information. This information is used for e-file authentication. The email includes the subject line “Verifying EFIN before e-filing.” The tax pro should not click on any of the links in this email, nor provide any personal or confidential information. Instead, they should forward it immediately to the IRS at [email protected].
Data Theft Plans
Are you prepared for a data breach? Data theft can happen quickly and often looks like an error at the point of intake. As a tax professional, should you experience a data breach, you will be asked to have a written information security plan as well as an emergency response plan in place.Data Safeguard for Tax Professionals by Steve Coach