IR-2022-135, July 12, 2022
WASHINGTON — As the battle continues against tax-related identity theft, the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry renewed their call for tax professionals to be on guard against new and ongoing threats involving their systems and taxpayer data.
This effort begins next week with the Security Summit's annual summer campaign focused on tax professionals and taking fundamental steps to stop data theft from their offices. This is the seventh year that the Security Summit partners – the IRS, state tax agencies and the nation's tax community – have worked to raise awareness about these issues through the "Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself" campaign.
The special five-part news release series will begin July 19 and run every Tuesday through August 16, which coincides with the dates for this year's IRS Nationwide Tax Forum. The forum will feature 32 webinars to help educate the tax professional community, and several involve security-related features.
This Thursday, July 14, is the last day for tax professionals to register to attend and have access to all 32 webinars. For more information and to register, visit IRS Nationwide Tax Forum.
"The IRS and the Security Summit partners continue to advance their shared efforts to protect the federal and state tax systems from identity thieves," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "As we've increased our defenses, cyberthieves increasingly turn to tax professionals, especially smaller operations, to look for security vulnerabilities. This is a critical link in protecting sensitive taxpayer information. By taking some basic security steps, tax pros help protect against the relentless efforts of identity thieves."
This summer's effort focuses on a reminder for tax pros to focus on fundamentals and to watch out for emerging vulnerabilities being seen for those practitioners using cloud-based services for their practice.
Identity thieves were especially active this past year as they continued to use the pandemic, nationwide teleworking practices and other events as predatory tactics for a variety of scams.
Tax professionals are prime targets of criminal syndicates that are both tech- and tax-savvy and well-funded. These scammers either trick or hack their way into tax professionals' computer systems to access client data. Even when tax pros think they have client data stored in a secure cloud, lack of strong authentication can make this information vulnerable.
Thieves can use stolen data to file fraudulent tax returns that make it more difficult for the IRS and the states to detect because the fraudulent returns use real financial information. Other data thieves sell the basic tax preparer or taxpayer information on the web so other fraudsters can try filing fraudulent tax returns.
The Security Summit formed in 2015 to join the fight against identity theft. The Summit partners made great inroads against tax-related identity theft, dramatically reducing confirmed identity theft returns and saving billions in tax dollars.
During the next five weeks, the Security Summit partners will highlight a series of simple actions that tax professionals can take to better protect their clients and themselves from sensitive data theft. Taking these steps now will help ensure that the progress in tax-related identity theft that started in 2015 continues. Highlighted recommendations will be to:
This summer series runs for five weeks and coincides with the annual IRS Nationwide Tax Forums, which are being held virtually beginning July 19. The forums feature three webinars focused on cyber- and information security that will be live streamed as follows:
For more information about the IRS Nationwide Tax Forums and to register visit IRS Nationwide Tax Forums.