Protecting Taxpayers Identity from Identity Theft

Protecting Taxpayers Identity from Identity Theft

With an increasing threat of identity theft to taxpayers, CPAs are expanding the preventative measures used to protect their clients from being a victim of fraud. Taxpayers can identify that they are a victim of theft when they receive a notice or email from the IRS stating that more than one tax return was filed with their information or show wages from not recognizable employer, which should raise an immediate red flag to identify theft, as the IRS does not send unsolicited, tax-account related emails to taxpayers.

Thieves can steal an individual’s personal information from a number of ways, including:

  1. Email/Telephone Phishing
  2. Discarded tax returns, bank records, credit card receipts, etc.
  3. Fraudulent emails that appear to be from the IRS asking a victim to verify personal information

Taxpayers should take the following precautions:          

  1. Arrange for masked SSN’s whenever possible
  2. Forward all information appearing to be from the IRS to your tax professional and to not click on links or open attachments from IRS emails
  3. Safeguard their Social Security cards; store them in a safe location and do not discard any documents with SSN on them
  4. Avoid giving out SSN or other personal information to businesses as it is often not required
  5. Protect personal computers with firewall, antispam/antivirus software, updating security patches and regularly changing passwords for accounts

Fineman West & Company takes many preventative steps to ensure the protection of our clients’ data.

For data security our Supervisor of Information Technology, Rell Burr, secures our clients’ data by taking the following precautions:

  1. IT Department: On-site IT personnel; never outsourced.
  2. Use of Secured Servers: All client data is located on secured in-house servers.
  3. Firewall Protection: Use of a secure firewall restricts access to unknown sources and restricts port scanning except for those identified by Fineman West.
  4. Anti-Virus Protection: Anti-Virus protection software is installed on all servers and workstations.
  5. Secure File Sharing Portal: File sharing via secure portal for encrypting & transmitting client data files securely.
  6. Backups: Onsite & cloud multiple back-up media; multiple levels of fail-safe including cloud base and local storage.

Office Security for Fineman West & Company includes:

  1. In-House Production: All client work is conducted in our single office and never outsourced to contractors
  2. Office Location: Fineman West & Company is located in a secure office building that provides on-site building security equipment, procedures and personnel 24/7. Building and connected parking garage is accessible by building issued bad/access card. All guests are required to register at the security front desk upon arrival

For more information on how to be protected from identity theft or Fineman West & Company’s client security measures, please contact our office to speak with a member of our professional staff.