Last week, the IRS 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. The IRS has made tax security a major focus as more taxpayers are utilizing digital programs and systems for banking, and other financial management services.
Generally, it is recommended that everyone adhere to these basic provisions whenever possible:
- Use malware protection/ antivirus software for computers and mobile phones – and keep it updated.
- Avoid phishing scams by scrutinizing all communication received, 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.
Of the above factors, one of the most essential to avoid security threats is the use of multi-factor authentication whenever possible. This includes on your smartphone or within software programs that you may use. This provides a critical layer of protection between yourself and any sensitive information that you may be dealing with.
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.
Get an Identity Protection PIN
In January, the Identity Protection PIN Program will be available to taxpayers nationwide. We strongly recommend taxpayers utilize this program as it provides a second form of authentication between you and the IRS and can significantly reduce the risk of fraudulent filings and identify theft.
- 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 page on the IRS website to see if the program is right for them.
Is Your Business at Risk?
Most cyberattacks target small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. It is important to understand that your business may become the target of a cyber attack. You should have mechanisms in place to prevent, detect, monitor, and respond to cyber incidents. This includes alerting the IRS. If your business has become a victim of a cyber attack the IRS provides various reporting guidelines that should be followed to alert the IRS to this attack. It is important that your business stay secure, if you have any concerns over this please reach out to your HBK Advisor.