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Issue Number: IR-2023-147
Inside This Issue
Security Summit: IRS reminds tax pros to plan, protect, defend against identity theft; special summer series concludes with important reminders
WASHINGTON — Wrapping up a special awareness series, the Internal Revenue Service and the Security Summit partners urged tax pros to maintain robust security measures and take important steps to protect themselves and their taxpayer clients against identity theft.
Tax-related identity theft scams continue targeting tax professionals with a regular bombardment of scams and schemes that seek to gain access to sensitive taxpayer information. These schemes continue to evolve and ensnare victims, threatening both tax professionals and the clients they serve.
In today’s conclusion of the special five-part “Protect Your Client; Protect Yourself” series, the IRS and Summit partners urge tax professionals to take critical steps to protect their information, including taking extra care with how they handle data and security at their business and at home.
“Tax professionals form a central part of the tax community’s defense against identity thieves and cyberattacks,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Ensuring strong security at a tax practice – regardless of its size – will help protect not just the business, but also help safeguard individual taxpayers as well as state and federal tax agencies from fraud. The IRS and the Security Summit partners continue to urge tax professionals to take important steps to protect their clients and themselves from identity thieves.”
The Security Summit is a public-private partnership created in 2015 that works to protect the tax system against tax-related identity theft and fraud. The partnership has successfully strengthened fraud defenses inside the tax system to protect against identity theft, including by sharing information about emerging fraud and cyber schemes.
A key part of those defenses involves awareness among tax professionals and the taxpaying public. This news release series provides important information to help protect sensitive taxpayer data that tax professionals hold while also protecting their business from identity thieves. This marks the eighth year that the Security Summit partners have worked to raise awareness about these issues through the “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” campaign as well as special seminars at the IRS Nationwide Tax Forums, which continue later this month in San Diego and Orlando.
The Security Summit partners also continue to remind tax professionals about the importance of setting up a Written Information Security Plan or WISP. The 28-page, easy-to-understand document was developed by and for tax and industry professionals to keep customer and business information safe and secure. The special template is designed to help tax professionals, especially smaller practices, make data security planning easier. Special sessions on the WISP have had standing room only audiences at the Tax Forum sessions so far this summer, with more than 300 attending last week’s session in Washington D.C.
Important reminders for tax pros, taxpayers to reduce identity theft risk:
In addition, because many continue working from home either full- or part-time, the IRS and Security Summit partners also urge:
If a tax pro or their firm are the victim of data theft, they should report it to their local IRS Stakeholder Liaison. Speed is critical. IRS Stakeholder Liaisons will ensure all the appropriate IRS offices are alerted. If reported quickly, the IRS can take steps to block fraudulent returns in the clients’ names and will assist tax pros through the process.
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.
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