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Tax pros need to be scam savvy, not just tax filers

Individuals in Minnesota and Wisconsin can find themselves in difficulty with the IRS for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes the wounds are self-inflicted. Sometimes they are the result of bad actions on the part of others. Regardless of how the troubles surface, action is required to get the matter resolved. If the tax dispute happens to be over an amount in the tens of thousands of dollars or more, it may well be time to call in a legal professional with solid experience to help.

One of the instances in which the bad actions of someone else can wind up hurting you is if somehow your identity gets hacked. Experts will surely agree that the digital age has opened a new door to fraud. The IRS does what it can preventatively. It regularly offers taxpayers advice on how to avoid emails and phone calls that seem to be from the agency, but are not. Now it's out with a warning for tax professionals.

The tactic being flagged in these cases involves emails. The IRS says the schemers are sending messages that look like tax software update notices from their providers. They supply a link that ostensibly is supposed to download the update. But officials say the software is loaded with malware that allows thieves to then track key strokes and capture Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers and other personal taxpayer information that can be used fraudulently.

The practice isn't very widespread, but the IRS seeks to nip things in the bud. It's telling tax professionals and taxpayers to take more precautions to prevent breaches. Included in the recommendations for preparers is the running of "deep scan" virus checks on their computers and networks and making sure that passwords are solidly secure.

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