ASK THE CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT TAX AND PAYROLL TAX ATTORNEY – IRS WANTS YOU TO BE CYBER SAFE FOR THE HOLIDAYS
By Robert S. Schriebman
‘Tis the season – for crooks and cyber thieves that is. This is the time of the year when these bad guys take advantage of people making online purchases or making payments with gift cards, money transfers, Western Union, MoneyGram, or Cryptocurrency. The IRS along with its Security Summit partners will be sending out weekly warnings. The first warning bulletin was issued on November 28, 2022 as IR-2022-204. Cyber crooks and other thieves obtain personal data and use it in many ways including filing fraudulent tax returns and stealing your tax refunds.
The Federal Trade Commission is also warning you never to buy anything from online sellers that accept only gift cards, money transfers through companies like Western Union or MoneyGram. When you make a transfer, it is nearly impossible to trace and reverse the scammers.
The IRS is also warning taxpayers about the increase in IRS-themed texting scams aimed at stealing personal and financial information. In 2022, the IRS identified literally thousands of fraudulent domains targeting taxpayers.
The IRS and its Security Summit partners reminds everyone to stay safe while holiday shopping with the following considerations:
- Shop at sites where the web address begins with “https” – the “s” is for secure communications and look for the “padlock” icon in the browser window.
- Don’t shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi places like a mall.
- Keep security software for computers, tablets, and mobile phones updated.
- Protect the devices of family members, including young children, older adults, as well as less technologically savvy users.
- Make sure anti-virus software for computers has a feature to stop malware, and that there is a firewall enabled that can prevent intrusions.
- Use strong and unique passwords for online accounts.
- Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. It helps prevent thieves from easily hacking accounts.
The IRS is also warning small and businesses, especially people working from home, and also advising professionals to be careful when using cloud-based services for their practice. Scammers either trick or hack their way into your computer systems to access client data.
IR-2022-204 states the following, “Even when tax pros think they have client data stored in a secure cloud, lack of strong authentication can make this information vulnerable.”
The IRS recommends taking the following steps for additional considerations for businesses and those working from home include:
- Use separate personal and business computers, mobile devices and email accounts.
- Do not send sensitive business information to personal email devices.
- Do not conduct business, including online business banking, on a personal computer or device.
- Do not engage in web surfing, gaming, or video downloading on business computers or devices.
- Do not share USB drives or external hard drives between personal and business computers or devices.
- Never connect an unknown/untrusted piece of hardware into the system or network.
- Change passwords often. Every three months is recommended. Consider using a password management application to store passwords. Passwords to devices and applications that contain business information should not be reused.
For the next several weeks the IRS will be issuing special bulletins warning tax professionals and the general public about the latest tax scams and hacks. I will keep you informed.
Robert Schriebman has a successful practice in the Rolling Hills Estates area of Los Angeles County serving clients throughout California and the United States. He has successfully dedicated more than 50 years to helping individual taxpayers, business owners, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and tax attorneys navigate the complicated tax systems of the federal and state governments. Mr. Schriebman is in private practice. He is not affiliated in any way with the EDD, and he is not employed by the EDD or any other agency of the State of California.
Robert Schriebman has written the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See “California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures” and “California Taxation Practice and Procedure,” both published by Commerce Clearing House.
Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, “IRS Tax Collection Procedures – A Manual for Practitioners” published by Commerce Clearing House.
Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, “IRS Tax Collection Procedures – A Manual for Practitioners” published by Commerce Clearing House in addition to the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See “California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures” and “California Taxation Practice and Procedure,” both published by Commerce Clearing House.
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