One of the fastest growing areas of identity theft is related to tax returns and other tax-related information. With tax season upon us, CPAs and their clients need to be aware of this growing risk and take action to prevent it from happening. Here are some security tips CPAs can use to keep client data secure year round.
Secure All Electronic Communications
A lot of business between accountants and their clients is done electronically these days. Whether it is through email, phone calls, or text messages, hackers are learning new ways of capturing sensitive electronic data and using it to steal identities.
Keep all electronic communications secure. This starts with making sure all information exchanged on your website is secured with HTTPS. Emails should never contain sensitive information in an open text format. Client phone calls should be made in the privacy of the office where prying ears cannot hear. Fax machines should be kept in an area not easily accessed by outsiders.
Mask SSNs When Possible
Many tax-related documents contain a person's social security number (SSN) as a unique identifier. However, this is a huge vulnerability for the client if those documents fall into the wrong hands. Unless the document must be filed with the IRS, do not print the full SSN on any document. All documents that must have the full SSN on them should be handled with the highest security.
Provide A Secure Method For Data Exchange
If your office accepts downloads from client accounting software packages, you need to provide a secure method for data exchange. Using encryption keys is one option. Providing access to a secure FTP site is another.
Work With A Security-Minded Printer For Statements And Forms
If your office handles a large number of clients, you probably don't have the capacity to print, fold and mail out hundreds or thousands of forms and statements each month, especially during tax season. Outsourcing that function to an outside printing company just makes sense. But don't go with just anyone.
You need a printer who can handle high-security print jobs utilizing the latest technology to keep your information secure. The printer should offer secure data exchange options as well as high-speed secure printing and mailing services to accountants, tax offices and other financial institutions. Choosing such a printer eliminates the need for your office staff to perform this labor-intensive work, giving them more time to focus on other parts of their jobs.
If you are looking for a secure printing solution prior to tax season, get in touch with the printing professionals at PPS. We are SSAE 16 compliant for the utmost in data security and have convenient locations in Amarillo, Lubbock and Midland.
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