Can You Trust Us with Your Personal and Financial Information?
Tax professionals have become increasingly vulnerable to data theft and cyber attacks in recent years due to a lack of strong security protocols. Taxpayer data can be a goldmine to criminals who use it to commit tax return fraud, social security fraud or identity theft. As a result, data security is now an absolute necessity for every tax professional, whether a partner in a large firm or a sole practitioner. Fortunately, we has been at the forefront of this effort for over two decades and offers clients a safe and trusted environment to get their taxes done.
Protecting taxpayer data is the law. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the authority to set data safeguard regulations for various entities, including professional tax return preparers. According to the FTC Safeguards Rule, tax return preparers must create and enact security plans to protect client data. Failure to do so may result in an FTC investigation.
We go above and beyond the standard requirements of the FTC regulations to help safeguard your personal and financial information in a variety of ways, each equally important.
Below are some of the proactive measures we take:
Every member of our team has received training to recognize phishing emails, especially those pretending to be from the IRS, e-Services, tax software companies or cloud storage providers. This includes reviewing all embedded links and attachments for suspicious activity, verifying email addresses came from a trusted and recognized source, and not sharing any information unless it was specifically authorized by our clients. Phishing is the #1 most common method for cybercriminals to steal sensitive data so we take this VERY seriously!
We use a business-class firewall to monitor inbound network traffic for malicious content, block potentially dangerous websites and help prevent hackers from accessing our systems. This is the foundation of Truax’s security strategy.
We use the latest anti-malware/anti-virus security software on all devices (laptops, desktops, routers, tablets and phones) and keep software set to automatically update with the latest virus definitions.
Our wireless network uses Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA-2) encryption with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and we don’t allow public access except through an external ISP hotspot that isn’t connected to our system. In addition, we don’t allow clients to use USB or flash drives on any network device as these can easily contain malicious files/applications the user may not even be aware of.
We use strong passwords that are updated regularly and encrypt all sensitive files/emails using password protections.
We backup sensitive data to a secure, offsite source not connected fulltime to our network. This is particularly critical in the event of a ransomware attack where the virus spreads throughout an entire network, including local backups.
We ensure all taxpayer information is deleted from devices, hard drives, USBs (flash drives), printers, tablets or phones before disposing. In addition, we physically destroy all devices or printed documents by crushing or shredding them prior to disposal.
We report ALL suspicious activity immediately to the IRS so they can take the appropriate actions to investigate and apprehend cyber criminals before they do any further harm.
Finally, we regularly monitor the IRS security briefings, media outlets, tax professional networks and other cyber security resources for the latest information about threats and risks we should be aware of. Whenever possible, we share this information with clients on our blog or via email.
Of course, all these layers of security can result in some minor inconveniences and we’re very sensitive to those. But as a TRUSTED tax advisor, it’s our responsibility to help ensure our client’s personal and financial information is secure at all times.
There are also steps you can take at home or work to help keep your information safe from cyber criminals. Check out our 7-part Data Security series for more information about what you should be doing to safeguard your data.
If you have any questions about how Truax helps keep your personal and financial information secure, please CONTACT US right away. We’re here to help!