We need your help.
In an unprecedented partnership, the IRS, the states and the tax industry are working together to protect your federal and state tax accounts from identity thieves.
Many of these steps are invisible to you but will help us verify the identity of the taxpayer and the validity of the tax return. The Summit partners' priorities for 2017 remain focused on enhanced authentication procedures, improved information sharing, heightened cybersecurity and greater education and outreach to the public. (See Fact Sheet 2016-21 for details on our efforts.)
We are asking you - taxpayers, tax preparers and businesses - to join with us to create an even stronger partnership in the face of this constantly evolving enemy. Our "Taxes. Security. Together" awareness campaign is an effort to better inform you about the need to protect your personal, tax and financial data online and at home. People continue to fall prey to clever cybercriminals who trick them into giving up Social Security numbers, account numbers or password information. In turn, criminals use this information a variety of ways, including filing fraudulent tax returns.
As part of the "Taxes. Security. Together" effort, we launched a Protect your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign to raise awareness among tax professionals that they increasingly are targets of cybercriminals and to offer tips on how to respond. The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry also hosted a National Tax Security Awareness Week Dec. 5 to Dec. 8, 2016.
How taxpayers can help
We’ve listed a few common sense suggestions that can make a big difference. See IRS Security Awareness Tax Tips for a recap of our tips to help secure your data.
A few highlights:
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer. Use strong passwords.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card company and even the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Protect your personal data. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure. Treat your personal information like you do your cash; don’t leave it lying around.
How tax preparers can help
Tax preparers are critical and valued partners in the tax administration process, and they have an important role to play in helping prevent identity theft.
Tax preparers should review their own security features. We’ve updated Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, to help provide an easy check list for you to review and update your security plan.
Tax preparers can share Publication 4524 with clients to help raise awareness about important security steps.
See our Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself page for information about this campaign and additional security information.
How businesses can help
Businesses and other organizations also can help combat identity theft by helping educate their employees, clients and customers. Businesses can share Publication 4524 or create their own messages.
Businesses that retain sensitive financial data also should review and update their security plan. Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, provides a good place to start and helpful recommendations.
We all have a role.