Scams involving taxpayer data are on the rise. In addition to traditional identity theft using personal info such as name, address, and social security number, sophisticated thieves are known to use SSNs to file fraudulent tax returns, cashing in on IRS refund checks.
Because of this increasing threat, the IRS has issued Publication 4557, a guide for tax return preparers and accountants who handle sensitive personal information.
What steps are tax return preparers required to take to safeguard personal info?
The IRS recommends standard cybersecurity precautions, including securing Wi-fi, using data encryption, and running antivirus and firewall software on workstations. Additionally, tax preparers should familiarize themselves with ways to avoid malware and phishing scams online.
But did you know that all tax preparers — even small firms — are required to comply with the Safeguards Rule of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)?
The Safeguards Rule requires that you formally evaluate the threats your business may face, lay out the precautions you’re taking against those threats, and put all of this into a written security plan.
So if you’re concerned about the security of your tax return data — personal or business — confirm that your tax preparer has complied with this rule and is taking the appropriate precautions to secure your data.
And if you’re a tax return originator, take the time to create a security plan, or update your plan in the face of the latest threats. One of the provisions of the GLBA involves secure data destruction. Your discarded electronics, such as laptops, desktops, and cell phones, could contain protected taxpayer information that needs to be securely destroyed prior to recycling.
CyberCrunch specializes in data destruction that complies with federal regulations, including GLBA.
Contact us today for a free consultation.