New measures to protect the American taxpayer against identity theft refund fraud were announced earlier this month by the IRS, state tax administrators and leaders of the tax industry. The public-private partnership put new safeguards in place for the 2016 tax season and saw significant results. One of the most notable was a 50% drop in fraudulent returns as reported by the IRS.
TaxSlayer is committed to ensuring the data and privacy of its valued customers is protected. TaxSlayer Pro tax preparers can take a few key steps of their own to play their part in protecting customers from identity theft. TaxSlayer Chief Information Security Officer, Michael Blache, recommends four tips for protecting customers’ data:
- Password protect your computers. Create a complex password using upper- and lower-case letters and numbers. It is recommended that passwords be at least 15 characters long. Realizing that complex passwords can be difficult to remember, there are many tips and tricks to help create a strong password that is easy to remember. Check out this site for suggestions.
- Use a different password for work and home. In addition to password protecting accounts, different passwords should be used for work and personal accounts. That way, the work account won’t be compromised if a personal account is compromised, and vice versa.
- Dedicate a computer for work purposes only. Avoid using the work computer for personal web surfing and checking personal email. Crafty cyber attackers use “fun” sites such as a video game or TV show to secretly infect your computer. Once this happens, your customer data may be compromised. By limiting web surfing to known, work-related sites, you drastically reduce the chances for compromise.
- Don’t leave documents lying around. Treat your customer’s data as if it were your own. Don’t leave personal documents on your desk in plain view. Always clear your desk of customer’s data and store it in a locked cabinet prior to meeting with another client or leaving the office.
Make sure to take appropriate steps to safeguard customer identity during every step of the tax preparation and filing process. For more information on the 2017 safeguards click here.
TaxSlayer is not responsible for security breaches. We provide these tips as a guide and encourage you to consult your office’s information technology manager for more safeguards.