IRS Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself Tax Tip Number 5, January 4, 2017
Tax professionals can help protect taxpayer data by looking around their own offices. It’s more important than ever that tax professionals take aggressive steps to protect taxpayer information. Securing office space is as important as securing computers.
In assessing how secure your office is, consider these questions:
- Are all the places where taxpayer information is located protected from unauthorized access and potential danger such as theft, flood and tornado?
- Do you have written procedures that prevent unauthorized access and unauthorized processes?
- Do you leave taxpayer information, including data on hardware and media, unsecured? Check on desks, photocopiers, mailboxes, vehicles and trashcans. What about in rooms in the office or at home where unauthorized access could occur?
- Who authorizes and/or controls delivery and removal of taxpayer information, including data on hardware and media?
- Are the doors to file rooms and/or computer rooms locked?
- Do you provide secure disposal of taxpayer information? Do you use items such as shredders, burn boxes or secure temporary file areas for information until it can be properly disposed?
The answers can be very important to protecting your clients and your business. To learn more about how to protect both, review Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data (PDF).
This is one in a series of special security awareness tax tips for tax professionals. The “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” campaign’s goal is to raise awareness among tax professionals. It is an initiative of the Security Summit, a joint project by the IRS, states and the tax community to combat identity theft. Because of the sensitive client data held by tax professionals, cybercriminals increasingly are targeting the tax preparation community.