3 Tips to Protect Your Clients from Tax Return Identity Theft

Tax season will be here again in just a few months. One of the most common tax-related crimes during this season is tax return identity theft. It happens when someone steals your personal information to file a tax return and claim a fake refund.

As a tax preparer, the safety of your clients’ information and identity lies in your hands. If you do not want your clients to fall victim to tax return identity theft, here are some tips on how you can avoid it.

#1: Make sure that your computer is protected

If you keep all the necessary client information on your computer, you need to ensure tight security and protection. Make sure you use your firewall and have updated anti-virus software. Many hackers nowadays will do whatever they can to steal information and sell it to other parties. If you do not want to compromise your client information or your company’s reputation, make sure to invest in a reliable program to fight off any malware attack.

Hackers are experts when it comes to identifying people’s passwords. Never save passwords on your computer, and make sure that your password is strong, unique, and changed regularly.

If you are considering selling or donating your computer, make sure to wipe the drive completely so that no one will have access to your old files. You should also consider destroying your hard drive and installing a new one before turning your computer over to someone else.

#2: Keep all the information private

It is not only through computers and the internet that cyberthieves attack. They can also track down your phone calls or text messages, and even your mail. To prevent any information leakage, make sure that you only discuss sensitive information in person. Do not leave traceable evidence of your exchanges on your computer.

Phishing is a popular way scammers steal sensitive information. They pretend to be a trustworthy bank or financial institution, or even your family member, to ask for your personal information or lead you to click on untrusted links. Ensure you know who you are talking to or verify whether the message you receive is legitimate before taking any further action.

Unless you are sure of who you are talking to, never give away any vital information.

#3: Shred documents containing critical information

One more way a thief can steal your information is by looking into your records. This is a critical concern, especially for a tax preparation company that keeps track of hundreds of documents inside the office. Anyone who has access to these files can immediately take advantage of them. Unless you can keep them guarded, you should shred bank documents or tax documents that you no longer need to save.

Conclusion

Your clients have entrusted their personal information to your company, and you should do your part in ensuring that their trust will not be put to waste. Start by implementing these three crucial tips. If things go out of control, make sure to inform your clients immediately. They should be among the first people to know about any such situation.

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