Your Plan To Minimize Social Media Risks

Social media and electronic communication have shaped the way companies interact with existing and potential clients. CPA firms have embraced this technology, but many have not considered the risks these platforms present. Identifying these risks and taking steps to reduce liability are of the utmost importance to those in the CPA profession.

The biggest risk is the breach of sensitive information. Clients trust their CPAs with social security numbers, bank and credit card data, tax returns, and a host of other personal information. If a CPA is not vigilant about security of client data, carelessness could cause sensitive information to be obtained by unscrupulous parties. At the very least, trust and client confidentiality is lost; at worst, the client is put at risk for identity theft, fraud, and the headache of monitoring for suspicious activity.

Objectivity is a cornerstone of the CPA profession. The danger of engaging clients through social media and electronic communication is the perception of a lack of objectivity regarding clients’ affairs. Personal relationships that form as a result of trust and long-standing partnership can be damaging in the case of legal proceedings against a client. The opposing attorney will attempt to use any friendly interaction to impugn the CPA’s objectivity.

CPA firms must evaluate the risks associated with social media and electronic communication, and implement a plan for using this technology without compromising confidentiality and professionalism. It is important to maintain separate accounts for personal and business correspondence. Work-related emails should meet a professional standard and reflect the CPA’s credibility and confidentiality. Social media posts should be consistent with these principles as well. Never engage in inappropriate dialogue or content that could damage the firm’s reputation.

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