Looking after your clients’ information
As an accountant, your clients’ interest always come first.
You work hard to provide them with the best service possible.
And while you take every care to make sure the emails that leave your office don’t contain any information that shouldn’t be there, the incoming emails usually don’t follow the same strict processes you have set for your staff.
Even highlighting to each of your clients on every email you send out doesn’t change these habits.
Clients forget to redact information
Let’s take a look at a scenario where a client has left a Tax File Number on an old tax return they send you
It’s almost tax time and it’s business as usual.
You’ve requested some information from your client, and they respond with multiple emails containing the requested documents as they become available.
Neither of you realise that a malicious third party has intercepted one or more of those emails and obtained sensitive information, such as the business’ Tax file number.
The first sign of trouble comes in the form of notices from the tax office
A few months later, you start receiving notices from the tax office about invoices that were supposedly issued by your client’s business. The payments attached to these invoices were sent to a bank account that you don’t recognise as being one of your client’s.
Your client is confused and insists they never issued those invoices or authorised any such transactions.
Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that someone has fraudulently used the business’ Tax file number to create copies of invoices and divert payments to their own account.
Reputations and businesses left in ruin
You and your client are left scrambling to try and undo the damage, but the fallout from this incident could be devastating. Your client’s reputation could be severely damaged, they could face hefty fines and legal action, and their business could suffer irreparable harm.
This scenario may sound far-fetched, but unfortunately, it’s all too real.
In fact, the Australian Taxation Office reported in 2019 that fraudulent activity involving the misuse of Tax file numbers had increased by 150% over the previous year. And this is growing every year.
Protect yourself and your clients from this type of fraud
Here are 4 tips to help you protect against fraud
1. Use secure file sharing services:
Instead of relying on email to send sensitive documents, use a secure file sharing service that encrypts the data and requires a password to access it.
Examples include Dropbox, Google Drive, Gatheroo and Microsoft OneDrive.
2. Be cautious when sharing sensitive information:
If you must share sensitive information via email, use a password-protected PDF file or similar format. Be sure to communicate the password separately from the email, either in person or over the phone.
3. Monitor your accounts:
Regularly check your client’s financial accounts for any suspicious activity. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, alert your client immediately.
4. Stay up-to-date on security measures:
Keep yourself informed about the latest security measures and best practices for protecting sensitive information. Attend training sessions or workshops, and stay informed about any updates or changes to relevant legislation.
Don’t turn a blind eye when it comes to your client’s security
By taking these steps, you can help minimise the risk of sensitive information being intercepted and used fraudulently against you or your clients.
Prevention is always better than cure.
Take the necessary precautions to keep your clients’ information safe, and enjoy peace of mind knowing that you’re doing everything you can to protect their business.
Apps for Accountants
There are not too many apps for accountants that enable you to differential yourself from the competition. Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks are used by so many accountants that it’s now expected that these main accounting software are supported by accountants and bookkeepers.
That’s where Gatheroo comes in.
It tells your clients that you care about them, more than your competition. And because you care, you are providing them with a platform and a way to share their information, that is secure and easy to use. Like nothing they have seen before.
Starting using Gatheroo for just $19 AUD per month
A Gatheroo subscription will not only remove the need for your clients to share information with you over emails, but it will also put them in control, with everything you need clearly listed, and a traffic light system highlights which sections have not been answered yet, saving you hours of mindless email searches.