Tim’s Tax News on the Tenth – July 2017

IRS SECURITY SUMMIT WARNS TAX PROFESSIONALS ABOUT PHISHING EPIDEMIC

On July 6, 2017, the IRS warned tax professionals to increase their computer security and to beware of their email inbox. The IRS specifically warned against the emerging successful email scams dubbed spear phishing that identify themselves as a friend, customer or known company.

The IRS’ Security Summit, which includes state tax agencies and the tax industry this week will kick off another series in the Protect Your Clients, Protect Yourself campaign called “Don’t Take the Bait.” The IRS noted that it is critical that tax professionals remember they have not just an obligation but also a legal requirement under federal law to protect taxpayer information.

IRS Commissioner said “We continue to see new and evolving threats involving data breaches, intrusions and various takeovers that put people’s personal information at risk,” the Commissioner further said “these efforts are increasingly targeting tax professionals and businesses with tax information. Too many still overlook basic security steps needed to protect their data. As part of this, we urge the tax professional community: Beware your inbox. Don’t take the bait from these phishing scams.”

Phishing scams use bait or lures to trick preparers into opening an infected link or attachment or disclosing usernames and passwords to critical accounts. Falling for the phishing bait means exposing taxpayer data to theft. Thieves also are interested in stealing preparers’ e-Services passwords, Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs), Centralized Authorization File (CAF) numbers and Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs.)

From January through May, there were 177 tax professionals or firms who reported data thefts involving client information involving thousands of people. The IRS currently is receiving three to five data theft reports a week from tax practitioners. Not all data losses are due to phishing scams but stopping this commonly used tactic by cybercriminals would do much to lessen the current losses.

The tax community and others with taxpayer data – including human resource departments, small businesses and others – are among those targeted with increasingly sophisticated phishing schemes.

Our office has been successful in helping taxpayers with IRS and IDOR collection problems for over 25 years. If you have a tax or debt problem, please contact me at (847) 705-9698 or thughes@lavellelaw.com and find out how we can help you. Above all, if you are unable to pay your tax bill, do not wait to call us. There are many programs designed to help taxpayers who are having trouble paying their tax bills. Because interest and penalties on unpaid taxes can add up very quickly, it is better to call our office sooner rather than later for help.

Lavelle Law, Ltd. is registered with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation as an approved continuing education provider for CPE for CPAs and Enrolled Agents. If your organization is seeking CPE courses in the area of Business Law, Innocent Spouse Relief, IRS Collections, Tax Scams (including ID Theft) or other areas in tax law that can be taught at your office, please contact me at thughes@lavellelaw.com.