Tax professionals handle a great deal of confidential client information every day. From W-2s and 1099s to Social Security numbers and bank account information, the data these tax preparers come into contact with daily could be precious to identity thieves and other criminals.
That's why it's so essential for tax professionals to have a plan in place for distributing sensitive documents - both to their clients and within their own offices. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Use cloud storage or an encrypted file-sharing service
When it comes to sharing sensitive documents, the cloud is generally more secure than email. Most reputable cloud storage and file-sharing services use encryption to protect users' data.
You don't even need to print documents to get them signed with the latest technology. Software such as Basil provides secure cloud portals to share and sign important documents. This ensures that your clients' information stays safe and secure throughout the process.
Use a password-protected PDF
Another option for sharing sensitive documents is to password-protect them in PDF format. This will prevent anyone from opening the document unless they have the password, which you can provide to your clients separately.
Password protection also comes in handy if you need to email sensitive documents. For example, you could password-protect a document before emailing it, and then provide the password to your client in a separate, secure communication.
Use redaction tools to black out confidential information before sharing
If you're sharing a document containing sensitive information, such as a tax return, you can use redaction tools to blackout it before sending it. Redaction tools are available in many word processing and PDF software programs.
For example, Adobe Acrobat has a built-in redaction tool that lets you select the text or images you want to black out and then permanently remove them from the document. These tools are especially useful if you need to share documents with multiple people, such as in a team environment.
Keep track of who has access to each document
Every file you share should have a list of who has access to it. That way, if there's ever a question about the document's security, you can easily see who has had access to it and when.
In addition, it's a good idea to keep track of when each document was last accessed. This information can help determine whether a document has been compromised. For instance, if you see that a document was accessed after you sent it to a client but before they received it, that could be a sign that the document was intercepted en route.
Use two-factor authentication
Whenever possible, use two-factor authentication to protect sensitive documents. Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that requires users to confirm their identity with a second factor, such as a code sent to their mobile phone and their password.
This makes it much more difficult for criminals to access sensitive documents, even if they have your password. Many cloud storage and file-sharing services offer two-factor authentication, so be sure to take advantage of it.
Send files securely
By following these tips, you can help ensure that sensitive documents are distributed safely and securely. In addition, by taking these precautions, you can help protect your clients' information - and your business - from identity theft and other crimes.
Basil is a secure cloud portal that helps businesses share and sign sensitive documents. With Basil, you can get your documents signed without ever having to print them. Learn more about how Basil can help you stay secure.