IR-2018-228, November 20, 2018

WASHINGTON – With the approach of the holidays and the upcoming tax season, the Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry will sponsor a nationwide campaign in December urging people to better protect their sensitive tax and financial data.

The third annual National Tax Security Awareness campaign, to be held Dec. 3-7, will feature events nationwide, highlight a daily security topic and mark the launch of a special @IRSTaxSecurity Twitter handle that will keep the public aware of emerging threats throughout the 2019 tax filing season.

“This time of year marks an especially risky period for people and their sensitive financial data,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “There are added risks with online holiday shopping and tax scams that could threaten people’s tax data. We encourage people to review some simple steps to protect their data and protect their tax returns during filing season.”

The IRS, states and the tax industry, partners in the Security Summit initiative, will join with consumer, business and community groups to host more than 20 events in 19 states to raise cybersecurity awareness.

The campaign is especially timely as the holiday season brings out online shoppers sharing sensitive financial data as well as online thieves seeking to con people into disclosing information that can be used to file fraudulent tax returns.

Each day starting Dec. 3, National Tax Security Awareness Week will focus daily on a single key issue that poses a threat to individuals, businesses and tax professionals and provides tips to better protect sensitive data from cybercriminals.

The campaign will highlight simple steps taxpayers can take such as using strong security software and strong passwords. It will highlight common tactics used by identity thieves to target taxpayers, businesses and tax professionals. It will also focus on specific threats to businesses and to tax professionals, both of whom are increasingly targeted by crooks.

@IRSTaxSecurity to keep taxpayers, tax professionals aware of scams

The IRS also is launching a special Twitter handle called @IRSTaxSecurity to share the latest scam and security alerts that routinely increase during tax season. Taxpayers can follow @IRSTaxSecurity. The Summit partners encourage people to share security information using the #TaxSecurity hashtag.

Individuals, businesses and tax professionals can get all the information they need during National Tax Security Awareness Week by visiting a special section on IRS.gov, following @IRSTaxSecurity on Twitter or by signing up for news releases and tax tips on IRS.gov.

Taxpayers looking to spread the word and show their support for this effort can also add a temporary National Tax Security Awareness Week overlay to their profile photos on Facebook through Dec. 7.

Free public webinar on how identity thieves use the Dark Web

In support of Tax Security Awareness Week, a free IRS webinar is being offered to help taxpayers understand the Dark Web and how it is used as a repository for: stolen identities, credit data, tax information and banking/financial information. During this webinar, IRS Criminal Investigation representatives will provide an overview of the Dark Web and answer questions that will help people recognize the risks and use of the Dark Web by cybercriminals.

This 100-minute webinar will be held on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, at 2 p.m. EST. To register, go to Tax Security Awareness: Understanding the Dark Web.

Security Summit makes progress, needs help from public

Since forming the Security Summit partnership in 2015, the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry have made significant inroads into tax-related identity theft. Learn more about their efforts and their progress at Security Summit on IRS.gov.

While the Summit partners continue to improve their internal defenses, more help is needed from taxpayers, businesses and tax professionals to better protect the data that identity thieves need to file fraudulent tax returns.

Increasing public awareness about people’s role in protecting their own data is a critical part of the Security Summit efforts. Partners launched the “Taxes. Security. Together” awareness campaign in the fall of 2015. Tax professionals can also keep track of alerts, awareness efforts and security news at “Protect Your Clients, Protect Yourself,” an effort that’s included several campaigns including this summer’s “Tax Security 101.” https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/security-summit-plans-national-tax-security-awareness-week-dec-3-7-new-twitter-handle-launched-dark-web-webinar-planned