Now that Tax Season is officially here, there are so many things on your plate and that of your Tax Preparer. But did you know that there is a very scary potential danger lurking behind the dark doors of the internet that could ruin your life simply by getting access to your tax documents?
Happy February! We are in full swing of Tax Season here in Summerville and have been thoroughly enjoying helping our clients get their taxes prepared and sent off. The IRS has been accepting online tax submissions for over two weeks now, and we are ready for the very busy weeks ahead of us. We are here to help you with all of your tax needs in Summerville, so please don't hesitate to reach out and connect with us so we can help you file appropriately and on time!
Our company, along with many others like us, are in the busiest times of their work year. Tax season can bring the fear of making sure your tax documents are filled out appropriately and on time along with the need of avoiding any penalties and accruing penalties. But the fear of online security attacks on CPA's and Tax Preparers also needs to be added to the list of worries and concerns for everyone this tax season. Cyber crime has sadly become one of the largest and most expensive forms of crimes globally. Banks, shipping companies, medical corporations, and even dating sites have become victims of cyber attacks, causing the leak of some of the most private and personal information that someone can get their hands on to use against the company or to steal someone's identity. It looks like CPA's and Tax Preparer's are starting to inch their way further up the list of those who are attacked most frequently, especially the deeper we head into Tax Season. The reality that Tax Preparers are some of the most attacked and targeted because of the very high profile data they are in charge of is becoming all too familiar. Cyber crime is running rampant through the streets of the internet, and during tax season, the level of crime and danger has become catastrophic.
Why specifically are these cyber criminals going after your CPA's and Tax Preparers? Think about the kinds of information they are privy to and have stored on their hard drives. They have years worth of bank account numbers, social security numbers, years of previous tax returns, your Employee Identification numbers, and plenty of other documents that could lead to your whole life being stolen if taken into the wrong hands. This kind of information is the forbidden candy store that is off-limits to any prying eyes, making it even more appealing to cyber criminals. This kind of information can also be very lucrative for the criminal, as they can use it for blackmail, something they can sell, or simply ruining your credit and stealing your identity. Thankfully this is where the Financial Services Act of 1999 comes into the picture to save you and your Tax Preparers state of mind. This act legally obligated any Tax Preparer to provide protection for their clients' digital documents.
Cyber criminals know that tax season is the most stressful, busy, and difficult times of the year for any Tax Preparer, and they will take advantage of that. As much as we hope this would be common knowledge to our fellow tax preparers, there are still some out there who are not as aware or not as prepared as they should be. Even if cyber attacks have never been an issue for your company or your tax preparer before, that doesn't mean they couldn't be attacked in the future. One of the biggest issues with cyber criminals now is that they are becoming smarter and more dangerous as time goes by. They are starting to figure out how to break in quicker, stronger, and in ways they never have before. Now, many of these attacks can go unnoticed for long periods or go under the radar without ever being caught. No matter the size of a Tax Preparation company, it will be at risk and can still be targeted. To a cyber criminal, any information they can steal is a good opportunity for them, and a horrible loss for you.
We understand how difficult this time of year is for anyone involved in preparing taxes, we are doing it right alongside you. But we could not stress enough that it is past time to take your IT protection seriously. Make sure you are constantly up to date with the programs you use to keep your digital files protected and consider working with a company whose sole job it is to keep you safe from things some software can't even detect. It might seem like overkill, but when it comes to your client's personal information and your reputation as a company, you can't put a price on that! For those looking into working with a Tax Preparation company, make sure to ask about the company's IT security. Do your research and see what protection they have provided their clients. Make sure their track record is strong, and that you feel confident in the protection they offer. Don't be afraid to ask about their security measures. you're handing over your personal information and it needs to stay this way. If they can't provide this information, then they might not be the company for you. We understand that asking these types of questions might be the last thing on your mind during tax season, but asking them and getting a positive response is just as important as filing your tax documents by April 15th!
Be smart this tax season and take your protection seriously. Make sure you are prepared for whatever might come your way. Until next time, we are Pathways Consulting and we are are here for all of your tax needs here in Summerville!
It's so easy to get caught up in the sales and excitement of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But remember hackers and other scams will be out there waiting for you, to prey on this excitement and your joy of wanting to get a jump start on your Christmas shopping. Enjoy all of the great online deals out there, but remember to be safe while doing so!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and for many, the real excitement is in the rush and excitement of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Deals are just waiting to be discovered, picked up, and purchased. One of the best parts? You can do a lot of this shopping from the comfort of your home, still eating Thanksgiving leftovers. But these shoppers aren't the only ones who are excited about the holidays. Hackers, Phishing Scams, and other dangerous lurkers are out there waiting to prey on anyone who will take the bait for a good deal. You should enjoy these opportunities and sales if that's something you enjoy doing. But if you're going to be participating in some of the biggest shopping days of the year, you need to be smart and stay safe while doing so. Please consider this list of tips and things to do as you are reaching for your credit card this year.
Being hacked, opening and falling into a phishing scam, or getting your identity stolen should be the last thing you need to worry about this holiday season. But you need to be proactive and prepared to make sure you don't fall victim to these things. Use this list as a guide to stay safe, protected, and be able to enjoy your cyber shopping without fear of someone ruining the best part of the year!
The Pathways Team