5 Security Steps Tax Preparers Should Complete Now

Source: AccountingWEB

January 22, 2016

By Jason Bramwell

The IRS recommended on Jan. 21 that tax return preparers perform a complete security scan of their computer hard drives and devices to prevent the spread of malware during filing season. 
The agency noted on Thursday that it is seeing multiple email phishing scams – some posing as the IRS – targeting tax preparers. These scams are designed to steal sensitive information – either preparers’ passwords for IRS accounts or sensitive taxpayer data stored on computers.

The IRS offered the following five actions that tax preparers should complete ASAP:

  1. Ensure that you and your employees have robust security software that helps block malware and viruses, and that it remains turned on and active at all times.
  2. Use the “deep scan” function to fully scour all computer drives and files for any malware or viruses. These bugs can hide in places that a “quick scan” does not search. Perform a deep scan periodically.
  3. Ensure that your security software updates automatically so that it is always up-to-date and on-guard against new and emerging malware and viruses.
  4. Review the security plan for your office and operations. If you do not have a security plan, review a checklist suggested by Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data.
  5. Educate your employees about the dangers of phishing, malware, emails, and other scams that could lead to malware or virus infections. One phishing email can result in all office computers being hacked for sensitive data. 

The IRS, state tax officials, and the tax industry have issued a series of Security Awareness Tax Tips for taxpayers. They also urge all tax preparers to share security awareness tips with their clients throughout the filing season. 
Preparers can print and share Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers, to help clients take additional steps to protect their personal, financial, and tax data online and at home.