Ruth Kallio-Mielke, CPA, managing tax director for the Milwaukee Tax Practice at Deloitte and WICPA member, spoke at an IRS press conference Tuesday to announce “National Tax Security Awareness Week” Dec. 3 -7, with a series of reminders to taxpayers and tax professionals.
“Tax professionals have an important responsibility when it comes to data security. We want to remind taxpayers of their role in choosing a tax preparer who is qualified to take the steps to ensure your information is safe and secure,” said Kallio-Mielke. “Members of the WICPA represent some of the best tax professionals in the industry, and we urge taxpayers to seriously consider qualifications when choosing a tax preparer this season.”
She reminded tax professionals and the public to follow these tips to keep personal information safe:
• Use strong passwords to protect your computer, phone and personal accounts.
• Avoid using public Wi-Fi in coffee shops and on airplanes.
• Don’t share private information on document-sharing websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Google.
• Don’t leave your computer or phone unattended without logging off or shutting down.
• Don’t leave your computer or phone in plain view in a car even if locked.
• Don’t leave your computer or tablet in your checked baggage when traveling.
• Don’t change or disable security settings on your computer or phone.
• Don’t click on links or open documents in emails, texts or social media posts from parties you don’t know.
• Never share personal information over the phone with someone who has called you.
• Separate personal information from your work computers and phones.
• Password-protect emailed documents that contain confidential information such as taxable income and Social Security numbers, and send the password to the recipient via separate email.
• Regularly update your security and operating system software on your computer and phone—many of the updates are there to prevent security issues.
• Regularly shut down your computer so the software can recycle and updates can process.
• Consider encrypting private data stored on your computer.
• Consult with information technology professionals if you experience abnormal computer issues to ensure it’s not related to malware or hacking.
Kallio-Mielke advises to ask your tax professional the right questions, and make sure they have the qualifications and credentials to do the job. Tax preparers should have a system in place to protect personal information.
“A tax preparer is trusted with your most personal information,” she said. They know your marriage date, income, address, children’s names and Social Security numbers—the details of your financial life. You want to keep that safe.”
You can find a listing of CPA firms around Wisconsin who provide services for individuals and companies which include tax, financial planning, audit, consulting and technology by visiting wicpa.org/FindaCPA.
About National Tax Security Awareness Week
The third annual National Tax Security Awareness campaign, Dec. 3-7, features events nationwide, highlights a daily security topic and marks the launch of a special @IRSTaxSecurity Twitter handle that will keep the public aware of emerging threats throughout the 2019 tax filing season. Individuals, businesses and tax professionals can get all the information they need during National Tax Security Awareness Week by visiting IRS.gov and following @IRSTaxSecurity on Twitter.