Tax professionals can protect taxpayer data by simply looking around their own offices. Preparers can look for places where they store data. They should use a critical eye to assess whether that data is secure. Tax preparers should also remember that unsecured data will not always be on a computer. In fact, securing office space is as important as securing computers.
In assessing how secure an office is, preparers should consider these six questions. The answers can be very important to help preparers protect both their clients and their businesses.
- Are all the places where taxpayer information is located protected from unauthorized access and potential danger such as theft, flood and tornado?
- Are there written procedures that prevent unauthorized access and unauthorized processes?
- Is taxpayer information left unsecured? This includes data stored electronically. Check desks, photocopiers, mailboxes, vehicles and trashcans. What about in rooms in the office or at home where unauthorized access could occur?
- Who authorizes or controls delivery and removal of taxpayer information, including data stored electronically?
- Are the doors to file rooms and computer rooms locked?
- Is there a secure disposal of taxpayer information, such as shredders, burn boxes, or secure temporary file areas for information until it can be properly disposed?
- Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data.
- Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself