Know the Signs of Tax Pro Data Theft

Cybercriminals often leave very few signs of their intrusion, so tax preparers might not even realize that client data has been stolen until fraudulent returns are filed. Here are some warning signs that your office may have experienced a data theft:

  1. Client e-filed returns that were filed electronically are rejected by the IRS because someone already filed a tax return with the same SSN.
  2. Clients who haven’t filed tax returns receive taxpayer authentication letters from the IRS, including the 5071C, 4883C and 5747C.
  3. Clients who haven’t filed tax returns receive refunds.
  4. Clients receive tax transcripts that they did not request.
  5. Clients who created an IRS online services account receive an IRS notice that their account was accessed, or an IRS email saying their account has been disabled.
  6. Clients unexpectedly receive an IRS notice that an online account was created in their names.
  7. The number of returns filed with your Electronic Filing Identification Number exceeds the number of clients you have.
  8. Your clients or colleagues are responding to emails that you didn’t send.
  9. Network computers are running slower than normal.
  10. Computer cursors are moving or changing numbers without someone touching the keyboard.
  11. Network computers are locking out employees.
Publication 5293, Data Security Resource Guide for Tax Professionals, reminds tax pros that it’s their responsibility to protect taxpayer data from theft and disclosure, and provides basic steps to take to protect client data.