The Internal Revenue Service Security Summit wants to alert tax and accounting professionals of a rising scam involving cyber criminals pretending to be potential clients. This scam isn’t new, in fact the IRS observes a surge in these types of scams during each tax season (January to April). However the IRS is already reporting instances of this scam where individuals are posing as real taxpayers reaching out to tax preparers in an effort to gain sensitive data they can then use to file fraudulent tax returns or other cyber crime. In this article we explore ways to keep you and your client’s data out of the hands of identity thieves by spotting their scams and shutting them down before they have a chance to take advantage of you.
As a tax professional, and a business owner, your goal is to grow your business by onboarding new clients and providing those clients with the highest quality service possible. These scammers are pretending to be clients reaching out to your tax office via an email that often contains a malicious link.
Spotting these fake emails can be difficult but some telltale signs are in how the email is phrased along with grammatical or spelling errors. However, cyber criminals are getting creative in how they approach their victims. In some instances they are able to steal the emails of legitimate clients and use that to trick preparers into clicking their links.
Subject: 2024 Tax Submission
My name is (name can vary), I am searching for another CPA to help handle my taxes.
Is it safe to say that you are accepting new clients for the 2024 tax season? Do you additionally assist with IRS representation?
I figured I may have an issue with last year’s return. (Click) HERE TO VIEW MY CREDENTIAL [Link to a phishing web address]
Upon your approval, we can arrange a physical or virtual meeting to discuss my situation and also provide my tax documents amongst others.
Kindly prompt how you plan to push ahead.
Now that you’ve been alerted to this scam you are probably wondering, “how do I avoid this scam without losing potential clients?” One word, SeQwens.
Instead of having clients and potential clients share their files through links or via email you can give them the power to upload their own documents right to your digital office management platform. With practice management software such as SeQwens you no longer have to take unnecessary risks with your client’s data. Instead invite them to access their own client portal where they can upload tax documents to our cloud based software. Access the documents whenever from any device. The best part, your client’s can only see what they upload, meaning even if it is a scam they will have no way of compromising the cyber security of your business.
What should you do if you’ve already come across this scam, receive a suspicious email later on during the tax season, or have already been taken advantage of by one of these con artists?
You can report any suspicious emails your tax business receives to email@example.com. If you, your tax business, or someone you know has lost money because of one of these scams then report the details of the scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Federal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Keeping you and your client’s data safe this tax season is the highest priority of any tax professional. Your clients are depending on you to keep their sensitive information out of the wrong hands and knowing how to recognize these types of scams is one of the best ways to do just that. Having cutting edge tools, such as SeQwens, at your disposal enable you to not only streamline how your office functions but also ensure the safety of your vital data.
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