I know it can be crazy around deadline days, but you have to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. If you notice something that might be out of the ordinary, always confirm by calling your software provider.
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (PRWEB) September 20, 2016
The latest in a long line of attempts to gain taxpayer knowledge sees identity thieves targeting the computer systems of tax professionals. Posing as professional tax software companies, the assailants are contacting tax pro’s via email while claiming to be sending a standard software update. However, the software being installed is actually a portal for the attackers to remotely control the computer system. This type of control allows them to file false returns using the victim’s filing information, as well as access the sensitive information of clients. More than two dozen cases of this type of hacking have been reported already.
Attacks in general are more common during peak filing periods. This most recent one comes as the October 17th extension filing deadline approaches. The last time there was a spike like this was early Spring, around the time of the April 15th deadline. This trend is likely timed this way because tax professionals are preoccupied servicing their clients and are not as vigilant as they would be other times. Ian Gardner, of Sigma Tax Pro encourages tax pros to stay vigilant, “I know it can be crazy around deadline days, but you have to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. If you notice something that might be out of the ordinary, always confirm by calling your software provider.” Tax pros should also be sure to review Pub. 4557, which provides a guide for safeguarding taxpayer data.
The IRS has outlined steps to take to ensure operating system’s have not been compromised:
● Run a security “deep scan” to search for viruses and malware;
● Strengthen passwords for both computer access and software access; make sure passwords are a minimum of eight digits (more is better) with a mix of numbers, letters and special characters and change them often;
● Be alert for phishing scams: do not click on links or open attachments from unknown senders;
● Educate all staff members about the dangers of phishing scams in the form of emails, texts and calls;
● Review any software that employees use to remotely access the network and/or IT support vendors use to remotely troubleshoot technical problems and support systems. Remote access software is a potential target for bad actors to gain entry and take control of a machine.
If any tax professionals believe they have been a victim of any type of attack, they are urged to consult Data Breach Information for Tax Professionals.
Sigma Tax Pro provides a full range of essential services for tax pros. This includes industry leading software solutions as well as technical support, tax preparation support and client retention strategies. Sigma Tax Pro specializes in helping tax preparation firms expand their businesses, open new offices and increase their client base.