IRS Suspends Some Tax Professionals’ e-Services Accounts

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Terry Sheridan
Columnist
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Tax professionals who are discovering that they can’t use their e-Services accounts apparently didn’t get the memo – IRS Letter 5903, that is.

The IRS mailed the letter in December to e-Services users who had access to sensitive information, used their accounts in the last year, and who had access to the Transcript Delivery System. The letter asked them to revalidate their identities within 30 days.

But users who didn’t do that were shut out of their e-Services accounts on Feb. 6, and they won’t have access until they revalidate their identities with the e-Services Help Desk.

It won’t be hard to figure out: An error message will pop up directing users to contact the e-Services Help Desk folks. They’ll ask for the embedded security code that’s in Letter 5903, which is required to re-register. They’ll also ask several proof-of-identity questions to make sure users are who they say they are.

If doing this over the phone doesn’t work out, tax professionals can re-register through Get Transcript Online or they can visit a Taxpayer Assistance Center to verify their identities.

Practitioners who had their e-Services registration accounts suspended and didn’t receive the letter should contact the e-Services Help Desk. Those who did get the letter and did validate their identity “need only call the Help Desk for quick reinstatement and password reset,” the IRS says.

Tax professionals can verify their identities online through Get Transcript, which allows them to use a two-factor authentication process called Secure Access. (Note: The IRS states that professionals can’t use the security code provided in Letter 5903 as their Secure Access authorization code. The letter’s security code is only for users who call the Help Desk.)

Users must have an email address, knowledge of their most recently filed tax return, and financial information from either a credit card or other loan numbers. They also must have a mobile phone in their name to complete the process in one session, or they must request an activation code by mail. Before they start, tax professionals should review Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools.

Practitioners who successfully registered through Get Transcript Online after Jan. 28 must call the e-Services Help Desk to have their e-Services registration accounts reinstated.

Naturally, all of this is about the IRS’s increased focus on cybercrimes and eluding the crooks. So, it should come as no surprise that even the e-Services account updates are being targeted by fraudsters looking to steal e-Services usernames and passwords, as well as other personal data.

“These are scams. Currently, there are several variations in circulation,” the IRS states in a scam alert. “One version seeks to capitalize on IRS efforts to strengthen e-Services.”

The agency doesn’t send emails asking tax professionals to click on links to update their accounts. These are phishing scams that are trying to steal their e-Services credentials – and that’s why the agency is strengthening this authentication process. So, don’t click on any links.

Further, there are other scams that try to get into practitioners’ computers to steal taxpayer data. Any email that says “e-Services,” “EFTPS,” or “IRS” from an unusual source is likely bogus and should be reported to phishing@irs.gov.

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