CPAs, Beware of These Tax Season Scams

It’s well known that tax seasons scams have been aggressively targeting taxpayers. The IRS has been proactively getting that message out to the public, and you’ve probably contacted your clients to let them know what kind of correspondence could be fraudulent. However, CPAs need to stay on high alert for tax season scams as well.

Criminals have become convincing in their scams targeting CPAs. They know that this time of year, the hectic pace can result in less scrutiny of suspicious correspondence. In a new article for Accounting Today, author Craig Smalley advises CPAs to stay vigilant this tax season. Smalley describes two of the most common methods criminals are using to target CPAs:

Tax prep software alert: the targeted CPA will get an email saying the tax prep software has been locked out for security reasons. The email will include a link where the CPA will enter login and password information, resulting in a breach of all their client information. Criminals are counting on CPAs being too busy to take the extra step to login to the software and see if it works. If there is an issue, contact the software company directly.

New client email: this scam can be hard to detect during tax season. A “new client” will contact a CPA wanting to get taxes done. The new client will then send documents for the CPA to prepare the tax return. However, these will be infected PDF files. Once the CPA opens the PDF, the virus is released and the hacker can gain access to all the firm’s client information. To combat this, it’s recommended that CPAs take some time to do a phone interview with any potential new client. If this extra step is involved, criminals are usually deterred and move on to an easier mark.

Smalley writes, “We must be vigilant this time of year to protect the sensitive information to which we have access. Simply by asking additional questions, and by putting certain checks in place, we can protect our data from intrusion.

To read more, see Smalley’s full article from Accounting Today.