Protect Your Clients: Security Summit Partners Warn Tax Pros of Cybercriminals

Computer hacker

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry are warning tax professionals of the continuing threat from cybercriminals and launched a series of security tips to encouraging stronger measures to protect taxpayer data.

The Security Summit partners note that cybercriminals worldwide are actively targeting tax professionals in an effort to steal taxpayer information that would allow them to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds. The Summit group, a partnership between the public and private sectors, urged the tax community to take steps now to protect information before the 2017 filing season.

The Security Summit partners recently expanded their ongoing public awareness campaign by launching the “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” campaign. As part of this initiative, the partners will issue weekly security awareness tax tips through January aimed at tax professionals.

Most tax professionals already have strong security measures, but some continue to be vulnerable to various scams or security weaknesses.

The “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” campaign comes as Security Summit partners have issued a number of alerts warning of cybercriminal efforts to breach tax preparers’ digital defenses through a variety of schemes. Recent warnings include:

  • E-mail phishing schemes posing as potential clients, trying to trick preparers into downloading malware onto their computers.
  • Phishing e-mails that pose as IRS e-Services and attempt to steal e-Services users’ usernames and passwords.
  • Remote takeover schemes in which cybercriminals actually take control of preparers’ computers and file fraudulent tax returns.

The series of security awareness tips focus on security measures tax professionals should take to better protect taxpayer data and to guard against the ever-evolving nature of identity theft and refund fraud.

The IRS also strongly urges all tax professionals to sign up for official IRS communications such as e-News for Tax Professionals. There also are social media options including Twitter.com/IRStaxpros. Also, tax professionals can help spread the word on this week’s messages using the hashtag #TaxSecurity in social media platforms.