IRS Launches Campaign to Combat Tax-Related Identity Theft

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WASHINGTON D.C. — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its Security Summit partners have announced a new campaign aimed at protecting tax professionals from evolving scams and identity theft threats. The “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” initiative is set to commence this summer, focusing on bolstering security measures within the tax professional community.

Ongoing Security Threats

Tax professionals face daily threats from cybercriminals seeking to steal sensitive taxpayer information. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel highlighted the importance of staying updated on these threats. “Security threats against tax professionals and their sensitive taxpayer information continue to evolve, and it’s critical to stay on top of the latest developments to protect their business and their clients,” he said.

Reports from IRS Stakeholder Liaisons indicate nearly 200 data incidents involving tax professionals this spring alone, potentially affecting up to 180,000 clients. These incidents underscore the urgency and significance of the new campaign.

Campaign Goals and Structure

Now in its ninth year, the Security Summit continues its efforts to raise awareness about tax-related identity theft through the Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign. This initiative is part of a broader coalition effort that includes the IRS, state tax agencies, and the nation’s tax community, established in 2015.

The summer campaign will consist of eight consecutive weekly news releases starting on July 9, coinciding with the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum in Chicago. These releases will provide tax professionals with essential information on maintaining robust security protocols and responding to security incidents.

Steps for Tax Professionals

Sharonne Bonardi, executive director of the Federation of Tax Administrators and a co-chair of the Summit’s communications team, emphasized the need for vigilance. “There are special steps that tax professionals need to take to protect themselves from scammers trying to obtain sensitive information in attempts to file fraudulent state and federal tax returns,” she said.

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Key recommendations for tax professionals include:

  • Staying Informed: Regularly updating knowledge on the latest security threats and best practices.
  • Implementing Strong Security Measures: Ensuring all systems are protected with up-to-date security software and protocols.
  • Reporting Incidents Promptly: Knowing the steps to take if a security incident occurs, including notifying the IRS and affected clients.
Strengthening Security in the Digital Age

The tax professional community plays a crucial role in safeguarding taxpayer information. With the rise of cybercrime, it is imperative that professionals in this field adopt stringent security measures. Failure to do so not only jeopardizes their own businesses but also puts thousands of taxpayers at risk.

This campaign aims to empower tax professionals with the knowledge and tools needed to defend against identity theft. By fostering a culture of vigilance and proactive security, the IRS and its partners hope to significantly reduce the incidence of tax-related fraud.

Boosting Trust in Tax Preparation

Successful implementation of this campaign could lead to fewer data breaches and improved trust in the tax preparation industry. For taxpayers, this means greater confidence that their personal information is secure when working with tax professionals. For the tax industry, enhanced security practices could result in fewer financial losses and legal liabilities associated with data breaches.

As threats against tax professionals continue to evolve, the IRS’s Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign serves as a crucial initiative in the fight against tax-related identity theft. By staying informed and adopting recommended security measures, tax professionals can protect both their businesses and their clients’ sensitive information. The upcoming series of news releases and the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum aim to equip the tax professional community with the resources they need to combat these ongoing threats effectively.

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