The Internal Revenue Service released yet another tax tip as part of the Security Summit’s Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself initiative this week, this time highlighting another way for tax professionals to spot signs of compromised security: monitor your EFIN activity. The IRS, state tax agencies, and members of the tax industry developed the Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself project as an awareness campaign that provides tax preparers with the information they need to combat the increasing threat of tax-related identity theft.
Since tax professionals keep sensitive taxpayer data on hand when processing returns, their offices have traditionally been a target for would-be cybercriminals. Aside from the usual dangers associated with identity theft, these criminals use stolen private information to file fraudulent tax returns and illegally collect refund checks from the IRS. If they get their hands on a preparer’s EFIN, then the returns they submit to the IRS may seem more legitimate.
Periodically verifying the number of returns you have processed using your EFIN is one way to determine if your system has been compromised. The process is fairly straightforward: just create and log in to an e-Services account, where you can quickly check the number of filed returns associate with your EFIN – then it’s just a matter of making sure your personal records match those listed in the app. Remember: the IRS updates these statistics on a weekly basis.
To learn more about EFINs, read Publication 3112, IRS e-file Application and Participation, and Publication 1345, Handbook for Authorized IRS e-file Providers of Individual Income Tax Returns. The official IRS website includes several Security Summit links that may help you keep your office and your clients secure during tax season and beyond. Source: Internal Revenue Service