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News

IRS Adds Protections to Guard Against Identity Theft

By:
S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
May 16, 2024

The IRS announced that it has added new protections to two of its systems in order to guard against identity theft, Accounting Today reported.

The agency has increased security for the Centralized Authorization File (CAF) program and placed new guidelines on how tax professionals can order transcripts by phone through the Transcript Delivery System.

Concerned about the risk that a compromised CAF number presents to tax professionals and taxpayers, such as fraudulent use of a compromised CAF to obtain transcripts and other sensitive taxpayer personally identifiable information, the IRS instituted a process in which suspected compromised CAF numbers are placed into a suspended status, pending further review. Once a CAF number is placed into a suspended status, the owner of the CAF number will be contacted to confirm if the CAF number has been compromised. If the compromise is confirmed, the IRS will take the appropriate actions to address the compromised CAF number.

“Tax professionals continue to present a tempting target to identity thieves and fraudsters,” said IRS Return Integrity and Compliance Services Director James Clifford in a statement. “With identity theft an ongoing concern, the IRS has taken additional steps needed to protect both tax professionals and their clients given the sensitivity and importance of the information involved. The IRS will continue working with the tax professional community on these issues to minimize burden on practitioners while also working to ensure the safety and security of this information.”

More information about this issue can be found in a special alert issued by the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.

With regard to the Transcript Delivery System, tax professionals now need to call the Practitioner Priority Service line to request transcripts to be deposited into their Secure Object Repository mailbox. IRS employees on other phone lines may not be authorized to provide transcripts through the Secure Object Repository delivery method. Tax professionals will need to pass enhanced authentication. If the identity of the caller cannot be verified, transcripts will not be delivered using the Secure Object Repository delivery method but will instead be mailed to the taxpayer’s address of record.

The IRS warned tax professionals to be on the lookout for unsolicited scam emails asking to provide credential information such as a CAF number, Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) information and driver’s license. These emails may look like they are coming from the IRS or a tax software company. Tax professionals who receive these unsolicited emails are advised to report them to phishing@irs.gov.