It’s time to have a word about passwords.
Many of us use the same sign-on and password over and over for our online accounts. That’s why phishing scams, which often seek password information, are so successful. Once a criminal has your password for one account, it’s highly likely you and/or your clients used the same sign-on information for other accounts.
The IRS, state revenue departments and the tax industry have teamed up to combat identity theft in the tax arena. Our theme: Taxes. Security. Together. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.
That’s why we have all agreed to new, stronger standards. These include:
- A password that has eight or more characters, including upper case and lower case letters, as well as numbers and a special character.
- New features include a timed lockout and limits on unsuccessful login attempts.
- You must complete three security questions.
- Tax software partners must verify email addresses. In many cases, this means a PIN will be sent to your email or text that you must use to verify your address before you can proceed with your tax software.
These are just a few of the new protections that will be in place for the 2016 tax season to protect your clients from identity thieves. Most of the protections we are taking may not be visible to your clients, but they will add layers of protection nonetheless, adding new and stronger protections during tax time.
While we are taking these steps, it’s a good time to think about passwords you and your clients use for other accounts. You should always use strong passwords with a mix of letters, numbers and special characters. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. The longer, the better. And, change your passwords regularly.
We all have a role to play in fighting identity theft. Join with us to fight identity theft.
- IRS Commissioner Koskinen’s Statement on the Security Summit Group Public Awareness Campaign
- www.irs.gov/identitytheft – Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance
- Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft
- Identity Theft – Criminal Investigation
- IR-2015-129, IRS, States and Tax Industry Announce New Steps to Help Public to Protect Personal Tax Data
- Fact Sheet 2015-23, IRS, States and Industry Partners Provide Update on Collaborative Fight Against Tax-Related Identity Theft
- IRS and Partner Statements on the October 2015 Security Summit Meeting