IR-2022-151, August 16, 2022
WASHINGTON — The Security Summit partners today concluded a special summer education campaign by outlining steps tax professionals can take to help clients from becoming statistics in identity-theft related tax-fraud scams.
The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry – working together as the Security Summit – have been combatting identity theft since 2015. This is the final part in a five-part summer series sponsored by the Summit partners to highlight critical steps tax professionals can take to protect client data. The "Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself" campaign is an effort to urge tax professionals to secure their computer systems and protect client data following the pandemic and its aftermath.
"Identity thieves always seem to find a hook to lure victims, and we increasingly see tax professionals as a target given the sensitive client data they handle," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Tax professionals have their hands full taking care of their clients and staying on top of the latest in professional developments. But they shouldn't overlook the basics of protecting their data and their systems. Missing these basic steps can be devastating to a tax pro – and their clients. But a few common-sense steps and being aware of security basics can go a long way to provide important protection."
While many may be working from home either full- or part-time, the IRS and Security Summit partners urge the use of virtual private networks, or VPNs, to securely conduct business.
Online business/commerce and banking should only be done while using a secure browser connection -never at a coffee shop, restaurant or other business offering 'free wifi.' One way users can tell if they're using a secure browser is by looking for a small lock visible in the lower right corner or upper left of the web browser window.
Some additional considerations:
In addition to reviewing IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, tax professionals can also get help with security recommendations by reviewing Small Business Information Security: The Fundamentals by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The IRS Identity Theft Central pages for tax pros, individuals and businesses have important details as well.
Publication 5293, Data Security Resource Guide for Tax Professionals, provides a compilation of data theft information available on IRS.gov.