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Taxpayers Should Protect Data All Year Round by Mahir Haroun

12-11-2017, 07:41 PM
ماهر هارون
<aماهر هارون
Registered: 11-01-2013
Total Posts: 19






Taxpayers Should Protect Data All Year Round by Mahir Haroun

    06:41 PM December, 11 2017

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    احرصوا علي سلامة وسرية بياناتكم الشخصية و المالية في الإنترنت

    With the online holiday shopping season in full swing, it’s the perfect time for all taxpayers to take steps to protect their identities and personal data. This year, the IRS kicked off this annual event with National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS partnered with state tax agencies, the tax industry and other groups across the country to encourage all taxpayers to think about data protection.
    While the week is over, information on these five topics remains relevant year-round:

    National Tax Security Awareness Week: Eight Steps to Keep Online Data Safe
    IRS Tax Tip 2017-82, November 27, 2017
    During the holiday shopping season, shoppers are looking for the perfect gifts. At the same time, criminals are looking for sensitive data. This data includes credit card numbers, financial accounts and Social Security numbers. Cybercriminals can use this information to file a fraudulent tax return.
    This tip is part of National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to remind people about the importance of data protection.
    Anyone with an online presence can do a few simple things to protect their identity and personal information. Following these eight steps can also help taxpayers protect their tax return and refund in 2018:
    • Shop at familiar online retailers. Generally, sites with an “s” in “https” at the start of the URL are secure. Users can also look for the “lock” icon in your browser’s URL bar. That said, some criminals may get a security certificate, so the “s” may not always mean a site is legitimate.
    • Avoid unprotected Wi-Fi. Users should not do online financial transactions when using unprotected public Wi-Fi. Unprotected public Wi-Fi hotspots may allow thieves to view transactions.
    • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails that pose as a trusted source. These emails can come from a source that looks like a legitimate bank or even the IRS. These emails may include a link that takes the user to a fake website. From there, the thieves can steal usernames and passwords.
    • Keep a clean machine. This includes computers, phones and tablets. Users should install security software to protect against malware that may steal data. This software also protects against viruses that may damage files.
    • Use passwords that are strong, long and unique. Experts suggest a minimum of 10 characters. Use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Use a different password for each account.
    • Use multi-factor authentication when available. Some financial institutions, email providers and social media sites allow users to set their accounts for multi-factor authentication. This means users may need a security code, usually sent as a text to their mobile phone, in addition to a username and password.
    • Sign up for account alerts. Some financial institutions will send email or text alerts to an account holder when there is a withdrawal or change to their accounts. Generally, people can check their account profile to see what added protections may be available.
    • Encrypt sensitive data and protect it with a password. People who keep financial records, tax returns or any personal information on their computer should protect this data. Users should also back up important data to an external source. When disposing of a computer, mobile phone or tablet, people should make sure they wipe the hard drive of all information before trashing.


    National Tax Security Awareness Week: Recognize Phishing Email Scams

    The IRS reminds people to be on the lookout for new, sophisticated email phishing scams. These scams not only endanger someone’s personal information, but they can also affect a taxpayer’s refund in 2018.
    This tip is part of National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to remind people about the importance of data protection.
    Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites to get personal information from the user. In many cases, the criminal fools someone into believing the phishing email is from someone they trust. The emails often have the look and feel of authentic communications. These targeted messages can trick even the most cautious person into doing something that may compromise data.
    People should be vigilant and skeptical. Even if the email is from a known source, people should use caution because cyber crooks are very good at mimicking trusted businesses, friends and family.
    Here are six examples of email phishing scams:
    • Emails requesting personal information. The thief might ask for bank account numbers, passwords, credit cards and Social Security numbers. This is the most common way thieves steal data.

    • An email urgently warning the recipient to update online financial accounts at a hyperlink provided in the email. The link goes to a fake site.

    • A message with an email address spoofing a familiar address to look like trusted businesses, friends and family. The fake address has a slight change in text, such as mailto:[email protected]@example.com vs. mailto:[email protected]@example.com. Merely changing the “m” to an “r” and “n” can trick people.

    • Emails saying the recipient has a tax refund waiting at the IRS or that the IRS needs information about insurance policies. The IRS doesn't initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.

    • The message has hyperlinks that take someone to a fake site. In one example, the email says: “Following recent calculations, we notice that you are eligible to receive a tax refund. In order to start the refund procedure, please visit this link and follow the steps required.” The link goes to a fake site. The IRS doesn’t send emails asking for refund verification.

    • The message includes a PDF attachment that may download malware or viruses. Never open an attachment from a suspicious email address.



    National Tax Security Awareness Week: Five Steps Data Breach Victims Can Take

    IRS Tax Tip 2017-84, November 29, 2017
    Every day, data thefts put people’s personal and financial information at risk. There are steps that identity theft victims can take to protect their financial accounts, their identities and their tax returns.
    This tip is part of National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to remind people about the importance of data protection.
    Generally, thieves want to use the stolen data as quickly as possible. That may mean selling the data on the Dark Web for use by other criminals. It may also mean the crook tries to withdraw money from bank accounts or charge credit cards. A thief might also try to file a fraudulent tax return using victims’ names for a refund.
    People who are the victim of a data breach should consider these five steps to help protect their sensitive information that can be used on a tax return:
    • If possible, the victim should try to determine what information the thieves compromised. Victims can try to find out if the criminals accessed emails and passwords, or more sensitive data such as name and Social Security number.
    • Breached companies often offer credit monitoring services to victims. Victims should consider taking advantage of these offers.
    • Victims should place a freeze on credit accounts to prevent access to credit records. There may be a fee that varies by state. At a minimum, victims should place a fraud alert on their credit accounts by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus. A fraud alert on credit records is not as secure as a freeze, but a fraud alert is free.
    • Victims should reset passwords on online accounts. It is especially important to reset passwords of financial sites, email and social media accounts. Some experts recommend at least 10-digit passwords mixing letters, numbers and special characters. People should use different passwords for each account, using a password manager or password app if necessary.
    • People should use multi-factor authentication when available. Some financial institutions, email providers and social media sites allow users to set their accounts for multi-factor authentication. This means users may need a security code, usually sent as a text to their mobile phone, in addition to a username and password.
    National Tax Security Awareness Week: Thieves Use W-2 Scam to get Employee Data
    Tax Tip 2017-85, November 30, 2017
    The IRS warns the nation’s business, payroll and human resource communities about a growing W-2 email scam. Criminals use this scheme to gain access to W-2 and other sensitive tax information that employers have about their employees.
    This tip is part of National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to remind people about the importance of data protection.
    This W-2 scam puts workers at risk for tax-related identity theft. The IRS recommends that all employers educate employees about this scheme, especially those in human resources and payroll departments. These employees are usually the first targets. Here are five warning signs about the W-2 scam:
    • The thief poses as a company executive, school official or other leader in the organization.
    • These scam emails often start with a simple greeting. It can be something like, “Hey, you in today؟”
    • The crook sends an email to one employee with payroll access. The sender requests a list of all employees and their Forms W-2. The thief may even specify the format in which they want the information.
    • The thieves use many different subject lines. The criminal might use words like “review,” “manual review” or “request.” In some cases, the thief may send a follow up email asking for a wire transfer.
    • Because payroll officials believe they are corresponding with an executive, it may take weeks for someone to realize a data theft occurred. The criminals usually try to use the information quickly, sometimes filing fraudulent tax returns within a day or two.
    This scam is such a threat to taxpayers and to tax administration that a special IRS reporting process has been set up. Anyone who thinks they were a victim of this scam can visit Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers to find out how to report it.

    Five Signs of Small Business Identity Theft, New Protection Methods
    IRS Tax Tip 2017-86, December 4, 2017
    Small business identity theft is a big business. Just like individuals, businesses can be victims too. Thieves use a business’s information to file fake tax returns or get credit cards.
    Identity thieves are more sophisticated than they used to be. They know the tax code and filing practices and how to get valuable data. The IRS has seen a sharp increase in fraudulent business tax forms. These include Forms 1120, 1120S and 1041, as well as Schedule K-1. These affect business, partnership, estate and trust filers.
    Signs of Identity Theft
    Business filers should be alert for signs of identity theft. They should contact the IRS if they experience any of these issues:
    • The IRS rejects an e-filed return saying it already has one with that identification number.
    • The IRS rejects an extension to file request saying it already has a return with that identification number.
    • The filer receives an unexpected tax transcript.
    • The filer receives an IRS notice that doesn’t relate to anything they submitted.
    • The filer doesn’t receive expected or routine mailings from the IRS.
    New Procedures to Protect Businesses in 2018
    The IRS, state tax agencies and software providers have ways to detect suspicious returns. However, some new measures can help validate returns in advance. The IRS and states are asking businesses and tax professionals to help verify if a tax return is legitimate. These procedures are new for 2018. Software for business tax returns will ask questions related to:
    • The person authorized to sign the return
    • Payment history
    • Parent company information
    • Past deductions
    • Filing history
    With the compliment of Mahir Haroun, CPA,GCMA.
    DBA Tax Man. 240.460.0912
    http://http://www.mahirharoun.comwww.mahirharoun.com

                  

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