With new and evolving scams emerging, the IRS and the Security Summit partners have announced the start of the summer Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign. This initiative aims to help tax professionals safeguard against new and ongoing threats related to tax-related identity theft.

“Security threats against tax professionals and their sensitive taxpayer information continue to evolve, and it’s critical to stay on top of the latest developments to protect their business and their clients,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “The Security Summit effort between the IRS, states and the nation’s tax industry has worked to protect taxpayers and tax returns from identity thieves, and tax professionals form a key part of these security defenses. It’s critical that everyone in the tax professional community, including smaller practices, stay current on the latest developments to keep their systems safe and protect their clients.”

Now in its ninth year, the Security Summit partners have worked together to raise awareness about these issues in the tax professional community through the Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign. This is part of the larger effort by the Summit coalition of the IRS, state tax agencies, and the nation’s tax community to combat tax-related identity theft that has been in place since 2015.

Security threats against tax professionals remain a daily issue. Through the spring, IRS Stakeholder Liaisons reported nearly 200 tax professional data incidents potentially affecting up to 180,000 clients.

With this summer’s campaign, the Summit partners will work to raise awareness among tax professionals about the importance of maintaining strong security and what to do if a security incident occurs.

This summer’s effort includes a series of eight news releases running weekly each Tuesday, starting with the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum on July 9 in Chicago. The news release series and the summer Tax Forums will provide vital information to help protect sensitive taxpayer data held by tax professionals and protect their businesses from identity thieves.

In addition to the series of news releases, the security focus will be featured at this summer’s Nationwide Tax Forums. Following the three-day forum in Chicago, the forums will continue on July 30 in Orlando, Aug. 13 in Baltimore, Aug. 20 in Dallas, and Sept. 10 in San Diego. Registration deadlines for these forums are quickly approaching, and they can sell out.

The forums will feature sessions to help educate the tax professional community on security-related topics. Experts from the IRS, the tax professional community, and the Salve Regina University’s Pell Center from Rhode Island will present. The entire news release series will also be available in Spanish.

By taking basic security steps, tax pros can help protect themselves against the relentless efforts of identity thieves. This summer’s effort includes reminders for tax pros to focus on fundamentals and watch out for emerging vulnerabilities. Updates will cover multi-factor authentication and the latest on Written Information Security Plans (WISP), which all tax professionals are required to have.

Tax professionals are prime targets of criminal syndicates that are both tech- and tax-savvy. These scammers trick or hack their way into tax professionals’ systems to access client data. Even when data is stored securely, such as in the cloud, lack of strong authentication can make it vulnerable.

Identity thieves use stolen data to file fraudulent tax returns, making it harder for the IRS and states to detect fraud because the returns use real financial information. Other data thieves sell the basic tax preparer or taxpayer information online so other fraudsters can try filing fraudulent tax returns.

The summer campaign will highlight key actions that tax professionals can take to protect their clients and themselves from data theft. Topics covered in the news release series include creating a security plan, new scams targeting tax pros, phishing and other cyber schemes, signing up clients for identity protection PINs, recognizing signs of identity theft, and understanding essential security protections.

By staying informed and implementing strong security measures, tax professionals can better defend against the ongoing threats posed by identity thieves.

Image: Depositphotos

This article, “IRS and Security Summit Launch Campaign to Protect Tax Pros from Identity Theft” was first published on Small Business Trends

Source: Small Business Trends

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