Highlights From the 2020 National Tax Security Awareness Week

  • Protect personal and financial information online.
  • Use multi-factor authentication.
  • Businesses at risk for identity theft.

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.

Heres 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.
  • If you’re a confirmed identity theft victim, we will mail you an IP PIN on a CP01A Notice if your case is resolved prior to the start of the next filing season.
  • If you’re volunteering for the IP PIN Opt-In Program you should use the online Get an IP PIN tool. If you don’t already have an account on IRS.gov, you must register to validate your identity. Before you register, read about the secure access identity authentication process.

Note:

o   An IP PIN is valid for one calendar year.

o   You must obtain a new IP PIN each year.

o   The IP PIN tool is generally unavailable mid-November through mid-January each year.

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
  • Check out the 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.

The rest of this week’s tax tips will take a closer look at some of these topics.

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Filomena Mealy

Filomena is a Relationship Manager for the Tax Outreach, Partnership and Education Branch of the Internal Revenue Service's.  Her responsibilities include developing outreach partnerships with non-tax companies, organizations and associations, such as the banking industry to educate and communicate changes in tax law, policy and procedures. She has provided content and served as a contributor to various associations and online media sources.
http://IRS.GOV

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