Tax Preparers Can Protect Their Clients by Hiring A Cybersecurity Pro

NSTPHackers

Tax Preparers Can Protect Their Clients by Hiring A Cybersecurity Pro

To protect their offices and clients, many tax preparers hire a cybersecurity professional. Every tax business is unique, so preparers should discuss their specific concerns with someone they hire. This will help safeguard both the preparer’s business and their clients’ data. Here are some things preparers should do when selecting a cybersecurity professional: Ask for recommendations Preparers can talk to other business owners or professionals for recommendations and references. Be selective Ultimately a preparer or business owner will need to select the person they trust most. They should choose someone with whom they feel comfortable discussing the safety and security of their business and clients. Do interviews Preparers should ask questions of the candidates to learn just how much experience they have in data protection. Here are some preliminary examples of questions preparers can ask to get the ball rolling: How does ransomware work and what can we do to protect our systems? What are the best options to securely back-up data and why are those options the best? Do you have suggestions regarding data encryption, malware, firewalls, disaster recovery, and remote access tools? Have you ever created a security plan for a similar business? Can you do an assessment … Read More

TAX PROFESSIONALS WARNED OF VARIOUS SCAMS; URGED TO BE WARY OF SCHEMES AS FILING SEASON DEADLINE APPROACHES

NSTPFraud, Fraudulent Tax Refunds, Hackers, Identity Theft, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Online Scams, Phishing, Security

TAX PROFESSIONALS WARNED OF VARIOUS SCAMS; URGED TO BE WARY OF SCHEMES AS FILING SEASON DEADLINE APPROACHES In what is becoming a repetitive theme the Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry are again warning tax professionals to beware of phishing email scams claiming to be from IRS e-Services and of schemes in general as we approach the April 18 deadline. Do not become a victim of these scams that are inundating the tax professional community. If you receive an email and you are uncertain of the validity then do not respond! Open your browser and go directly to the website for your software vendor, or bank, or credit card company or the IRS to request clarification if necessary. Under the leadership of the Security Summit; the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry warned that this time of year is the high season for identity thieves scams to steal sensitive data from tax professionals. All tax preparers and their employees must be on guard against phishing activities. The IRS noted a particular surge in the past 24 hours related to a phishing email scam that seeks to steal practitioners’ usernames and passwords for IRS e-Services. … Read More

IRS, STATES AND TAX INDUSTRY WARN OF LAST-MINUTE EMAIL SCAMS

NSTPData Theft, Hackers, Identity Theft, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Online Scams, Security

IRS, STATES AND TAX INDUSTRY WARN OF LAST-MINUTE EMAIL SCAMS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), state tax agencies and the tax industry is again warning both tax professionals and taxpayers of last-minute phishing email scams, especially those requesting last-minute deposit changes for refunds or account updates. As the 2017 tax filing season winds down to the April 18 deadline, tax-related scams of various sorts are at their peak. The IRS urged both tax professionals and taxpayers to be on guard against suspicious activity. For example, a new scam poses as taxpayers asking their tax preparer to make a last-minute change to their refund destination, often to a prepaid debit card. The IRS urges tax preparers to verbally reconfirm information with the client should they receive last-minute email request to change an address or direct deposit account for refunds. This is also the time of year when taxpayers may see scam emails from their tax software provider or others asking them to update online accounts. Taxpayers should learn to recognize phishing emails, calls or texts that pose as familiar organizations such as banks, credit card companies, tax software providers or even the IRS. These ruses generally urge taxpayers to give up sensitive data such as passwords, Social Security numbers and bank … Read More

ICYMI: NEW TWO-STAGE E-MAIL SCHEME TARGETS TAX PROFESSIONALS

NSTPHackers, Online Scams, Phishing, Security, Tax Professionals

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and tax industry leaders are warning tax professionals to be alert to an email scam from cybercriminals posing as clients soliciting their services. A new variation of this phishing scheme is targeting accounting and tax preparation firms nationwide. The scheme’s objective is to collect sensitive information that will allow fraudsters to prepare fraudulent tax returns. These latest phishing emails typically come in two stages. The first email is the solicitation, which asks tax professionals questions such as “I need a preparer to file my taxes.” If the tax professional responds, the cybercriminal sends a second email. This second email typically has either an embedded web address or contains a PDF attachment that has an embedded web address. The tax professional may think they are downloading a potential client’s tax information or accessing a site with the potential client’s tax information. In reality, the cybercriminals are collecting the preparer’s email address and password and possibly other information. The IRS urges tax professionals and tax preparation firms to consider creating internal policies or seeking security experts’ recommendations on how to address unsolicited emails seeking their services. One tip: Never click on a link in an … Read More

IRS OFFERS TIPS ON VALIDATING YOUR IDENTITY ON YOUR TAX RETURN

NSTPHackers, Online Scams, Phishing, Security

You should always keep a copy of your tax return. It is even more important for 2017, as the Internal Revenue Service moves to strengthen its e-signature validation process. You must use your 2015 adjusted gross income or your 2015 self-select PIN to validate your identity on your federal electronic tax return this tax season. The electronic filing PIN is no longer available as an option. As part of the IRS efforts to protect taxpayers, the e-signature validation change mostly affects those taxpayers who have used tax software in the past but are changing software brands in 2017. If that’s you, learn more about how to verify your identity and electronically sign your tax return at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return. Here are a few important steps: Find a copy of your 2015 tax return; the original return filed with the IRS. Create a five-digit Self-Select PIN to serve as your electronic signature. It can be any five numbers except all zeros. If married filing jointly, each taxpayer must create a self-select PIN. Provide your date of birth when prompted Provide either your 2015 adjusted gross income or your 2015 self-select PIN as the “shared secret” between you and the … Read More

NATIONAL TAX SECURITY WEEK CONCLUDES; IRS, SECURITY SUMMIT PARTNERS CONTINUE WORK TO PROTECT TAXPAYERS IN 2017

NSTPHackers, Online Scams, Phishing, Security

The Internal Revenue Service and Security Summit partners urged taxpayers to take immediate steps to protect their personal data to strengthen expanded efforts being taken this upcoming tax season by federal, state and tax industry leaders against identity theft and refund fraud. The Security Summit, an unprecedented collaborative effort between the IRS, the states and the nation’s tax industry, announced in November plans to improve identity theft and refund fraud protections for individual and business taxpayers for the 2017 filing season. The collective efforts of the IRS, the states and the tax industry have provided new and important protections for taxpayers, which will continue to expand during the 2017 filing season,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “These steps will be even more effective if taxpayers and tax professionals take action now to secure their data and computers before tax season begins. We all have an important role to play in protecting against identity theft and refund fraud. This is the final part of a week-long effort to alert taxpayers and tax professionals to security threats during the “National Tax Security Awareness Week.” This week, the IRS, states and the tax community sent out a series of reminders to taxpayers and … Read More