The IRS has detected a recent wave of cyber crime targeting tax professionals. Identity thieves are invading tax preparers' computers remotely and using the information on their systems to file fraudulent taxes under the preparer's name. To combat this, the IRS has announced their Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign, raising awareness about this new threat and suggesting various measures tax preparers should take to prevent criminals from accessing their data.
The IRS has reported that a significant portion of these crimes are committed using sophisticated means and are syndicated efforts. To prevent identity thieves from stealing client and preparer information, the IRS suggests some simple but effective ways to keep intruders out. These include running deep security scans, switching to stronger passwords, thoroughly reviewing all new software and avoiding remote-access software, and avoiding clicking any email links that look suspicious or come from an unknown source.
The IRS also urges tax preparation firms to ensure their employees are informed on how to keep their systems secure. Along with the tips suggested above, they recommend all tax professionals read Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, a Guide for Your Business. In this publication, tax professionals can see an essential outline of good security practice and follow a checklist to make sure their firm and their clients are as protected as possible.
For more information about this, check the official IRS news release.