Tax Season. It’s a stressful time for any accountant. Not only do you have to worry about hitting deadlines, but you have to worry about protecting your client’s highly sensitive information. Unfortunately, CPA firms are an attractive target for hackers because they store highly sensitive, current personal and financial information. Safely securing information has never been more crucial to accounting firms, especially during Tax Season. Here are four ways you can safeguard your information.
1. Knowledge – How do you protect your firm’s primary asset: your expertise?
External resources and internal expertise are your greatest assets because knowledge is power. It’s important to understand how you can use the knowledge you have to serve your customers better. All firms can do tax returns, audits, and bookkeeping. However, one of the ways to differentiate your firm is to document the knowledge your employees have about your customers.
That’s why it’s important to organize your information and make it easily available for your employees. Making knowledge quickly accessible is easy when you use a document management system like eFileCabinet. Employees can quickly find what they’re looking for, even when they’re not on a computer at the office. You’ll be able to leverage your company’s expertise a lot faster when you use a Document Management System.
2. Process – How do you balance being thorough and accurate with being efficient and profitable?
Sandra Wiley, COO at Boomer Consulting, made the point that manual data entry is still being used far too often throughout the accounting profession. Unfortunately, the manual process is error-ridden, which is why firms are increasingly moving their operations to the Cloud.
Companies who have gone paperless have streamlined their workflow and have seen higher profitability. Using a Document Management System like eFileCabinet can simplify your company’s processes and help you create more efficient ways of doing things.
3. Policy – What steps are you taking to protect your client data?
The biggest challenge your accounting firm faces is the necessity to keep your client data safe in the digital world. Here are a few things for your firm to think about:
- Data backup
- Mobile backup
- Education of your staff
- Ability to wipe a device if it’s lost
- Using a client portal
- Not sending sensitive information via email
While there are external threats like in the case of the data breaches at Home Depot and Target, you also need to be concerned about internal threats. For example, disgruntled employees could potentially steal information. It’s also possible for clients not to properly log out when they’re accessing information from a mobile device, which may leave their data at risk.
The best thing your organization can do is to use a program that allows you to restrict access to your employees. eFileCabinet provides secure sharing within your organization and outside of it so that your documents and information are never in danger of being compromised. You can also feel safe knowing that only the appropriate people have access to your sensitive information.
Additionally, it’s essential to be able to audit what’s going on inside of your documents. Your program should also properly protect your client’s logins. With eFileCabinet, a full record is kept for every file and document on your system. You’ll know when a document was created and when it is was accessed. You’ll also know who, when and how a file was transferred.
Finally, your organization should have policies on how to deal with data security when working on and completing tax returns for your clients. It’s not enough to know how to prepare a tax return, but it’s important to keep the client’s information safe at the same time.
4. Protection – What Security Measures Do You Employ To Keep Your Client Information Safe?
Security should be a big concern at your firm. To keep client information safe, you should follow these security tips:
- Don’t send sensitive information via email
- Require employees and clients to use strong passwords
- Be prepared to deactivate staff access
- Be aware of where your data is stored
- Limit access to only necessary information
The Big Takeaway
Safeguarding your client’s information is a tremendous job and can end up adding lots of stress to your plate. eFileCabinet strives to offer the highest standard of secure sharing and protection for you and your clients. While there is danger around every corner, eFileCabinet will act as a shield against the worst scenarios and help you to cultivate a new, innovative system that will give you peace of mind. Now during Tax Season, you’ll worry less, which is a huge stress reliever for every accountant during this time.