The IRS is reporting a rise in successful scams targeting tax professionals. This news comes on the heels of a second filing season defined by the pandemic: Preparers and taxpayers again relied on digital communication and file exchange, and legislators passed legislation providing advance payments to qualifying Americans.
“Through June 30, 2021, there have been 222 data theft reports this year from tax professionals to the IRS, outpacing the rate of 211 in 2020 and 124 in 2019,” the IRS says. “Each report can impact hundreds of taxpayers and threaten the tax professional's business.”
The good news is that the upcoming Security Summit educational outreach campaign includes easy-to-implement security solutions that can prevent preparers from falling victim to data theft. "Boost Security Immunity: Fighting Against Identity Theft" is a five-week series that reflects the new “always online” reality for many tax professionals and taxpayers.
What will the “Boost Security Immunity: Fighting Against Identity Theft” campaign cover?
The IRS says the “Boost Security Immunity: Fighting Against Identity Theft” campaign will address a new topic each week, starting on July 20. Here’s the preview:
- Multi-factor authentication
- Identity Protection PINs (IP PINs)
- Unemployment compensation fraud that targets taxpayers
- Spear phishing scams that target tax professionals
- The signs of identity theft
While the first two weeks cover proactive steps for protecting tax pros’ accounts and taxpayers’ returns, respectively, the final weeks gradually broaden the focus from specific fraud to general tips for spotting scams. The agency says the campaign should help tax professionals “better protect client data from theft and help ensure that the progress in tax-related identity theft that started in 2015 continues on its path.”
Learn more about data security at the IRS Nationwide Tax Forums.
The IRS notes that the 2021 Virtual Nationwide Tax Forums will feature three security-related webinars:
- "Cybersecurity for Tax Professionals – Advanced Session," presented by the American Coalition for Taxpayer Rights, July 28 at 2 p.m. ET.
- "Helping You and Your Clients Steer Clear of Fraud and Scams," presented by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Aug. 4 at 11 a.m. ET.
- "IRS Criminal Investigation: Deeper Dive into Emerging Cyber Crimes and Crypto Tax Compliance," Aug. 5 at 11 a.m. ET.
If you’re attending the virtual forums, be sure to check out the Drake Software virtual booth.