The IRS announced that December 2 through December 6 will be National Tax Security Awareness Week—five days dedicated to highlighting how Americans can protect themselves from data-security threats. Generally observed in early December to remind taxpayers and businesses to protect their data during the holidays, this year marks the fourth consecutive National Tax Security Awareness Week put on by the Security Summit.
Anyone who has spent some time reading the GruntWorx blog has probably read about the Security Summit. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a partnership between federal, state, and private members of the tax industry that was founded in early 2015 to combat the spread of tax-related identity theft scams. Since it was established, the Security Summit has developed a number of outreach programs and data-security best practices for taxpayers and tax professionals.
Despite being content to run the same scams year after year, fraudsters can be a surprisingly creative bunch. They learn from their mistakes, which often results in updated versions of old scams or entirely new strategies that sound too crazy to be true (like the old “deposit a fraudulently filed tax refund in a victim’s bank account and then ask them to return that money to ‘the authorities’” trick). The result is a barrage of scams aimed at stealing personally identifiable information (PII) and money. That’s where the Security Summit and initiatives like National Tax Security Awareness Week come in.
The National Tax Security Awareness Week campaign is a coordinated media effort that tries to reach taxpayers and tax professionals on the Internet platforms they frequent. For tax professionals, that obviously means posting information on IRS.gov and sending emails to newsletter subscribers. (Every tax professional reading this is subscribed to an IRS newsletter, right? Right? Right!?). The IRS will also post information on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
The Security Summit also wants to help tax professionals pass key data-security information on to people in their orbit. New for 2019, tax professionals will have access to a National Tax Security Awareness Week media packet. According to the IRS release, this partner toolkit “features ready-to-use communication products that organizations and stakeholders can use to help raise awareness among clients, customers, and employees…including drop-in articles and email content for sharing and social media posts.” This information will presumably follow the topic-of-the-day format used throughout the campaign.
While we’ll put together a summary write-up at the end of National Tax Security Awareness Week, here’s the IRS preview of the topics for 2019:
Day 1: Protect personal and financial information online
Day 2: Learn to recognize phishing emails and phone scams
Day 3: Create strong passwords to protect online accounts
Day 4: Recognize clues of identity theft
Day 5: Tax professionals should review their safeguards
To read more about the upcoming National Tax Security Awareness Week, swing by IRS.gov, and don’t forget to check back with us on December 6 for a full rundown of those security tips.