IRS warns tax pros about cybercriminals; awareness tips

Stock image, St. George News

PHOENIX – The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry are warning tax professionals about the continuing threat from cybercriminals and are offering a series of security tips to encourage 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 Security group, a partnership between public and private sectors, is urging the tax community to take steps now to protect information before the 2017 filing season.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax community recently sent out a series of reminders to taxpayers and tax professionals as part of the ongoing Security Summit effort.

The Security Summit partners have 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 2017 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 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

  • Email phishing schemes posing as potential clients, trying to trick preparers into downloading malware onto their computers.
  • Phishing emails 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. In addition, there are social media options including

Tax professionals can also help spread the word on this week’s messages using the hashtag #TaxSecurity in social media platforms.

For more information, see the IRS publication Tax Professionals: Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself.

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Twitter: @STGnews 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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