National Tax Awareness
Recently, the IRS and its Security Summit partners hosted the 2020 National Tax Security Awareness Week. The goal of this week is to encourage taxpayers, businesses and tax pros to take steps to protect their tax data and identities.
Here are some of the highlights from topics covered during the week.
Protect personal and financial information online. Everyone should start with these basics:
• Use security software for computers and mobile phones – and keep it updated.
• Avoid phishing scams, especially related to COVID-19 or Economic Impact Payments.
• Use strong and unique passwords for all accounts.
• Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
• Shop only secure websites.
• Look for the https in web addresses.
• Avoid shopping on unsecured and public Wi-Fi.
Use multi-factor authentication
• All tax software providers are offering multi-factor authentication options on products for both taxpayers and tax professionals.
• Multi-factor authentication protects online accounts by requiring a second verification code in addition to a username and password. For example, this second feature may be a code sent to the taxpayer’s cell phone.
• Multi-factor authentication provides a critical layer of protection for your online accounts.
Get an Identity Protection PIN In January, the Identity Protection PIN Program will available to taxpayers nationwide.
• The Identity Protection PIN or IP PIN is a six-digit number known only to the taxpayer and the IRS. It helps prevent a taxpayer’s Social Security number from being used to file fraudulent federal income tax returns.
• Taxpayers can review the Get An Identity Protection PIN details to see if the program is right for them.
Businesses at risk for identity theft
Most cyberattacks target small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The IRS has resources and information to help businesses stay safe.
• All businesses can report identity theft to the IRS using Form 14039-B, Business Identity Theft Affidavit PDF.
• Business section of Identity Theft Central on IRS.gov.
Tax professionals should review their safeguards
The IRS and the Summit partners urge tax pros to review the Taxes- Security-Together Checklist. It covers a variety of topic including:
• Deploying basic security measures.
• Using multi-factor authentication to protect tax software accounts.
• How to create virtual private network for working remotely.
• Creating a written data security plan as required by law.
• The importance of knowing about phishing and phone scams, especially those related to fake clients, COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments.
• Creating data security and data theft recovery plans.
Protect Personal Information
Don’t routinely carry your or any dependents’ Social Security card or documents with an SSN. Do not overshare personal information on social media. Information about past addresses, a new car, a new home and even your children help identity thieves pose as you. Keep old tax returns and tax records under lock and key or encrypted if electronic. Shred tax documents before trashing.
Avoid IRS Impersonators.
The IRS will not call you with threats of jail or lawsuits. The IRS will not send you an unsolicited email suggesting you have a refund or that you need to update your account. The IRS will not request any sensitive information online. These are all scams, and they are persistent. Don’t fall for them. Forward IRS-related scam emails to email@example.com. Report IRS impersonation telephone calls at www.tigta.gov.
• Check your credit report annually; check your bank and credit card statements often.
• Review your Social Security Administration records annually: Sign up for My Social Security at www.ssa.gov.
• If you are an identity theft victim and your tax account is affected, review www.irs.gov/identitytheft for details.