Cybersecurity issues are a modern-day way of life. Threats to our personal data and information occur daily as hackers and ill-spirited actors work to steal information they can financially capitalize upon. In 2003, The FTC’s Standards for Safeguarding Customer Information – aka Safeguard Rule – because of the law. But, it wasn’t until late 2022 that the law was modified to include the current threat landscape. Additionally, mandatory compliance – something the FTC only inconsistently enforced – because of a requirement.
Financial institutions failing to maintain compliance could face fines, penalties, lawsuits and jail time. Due to the stringent requirements enacted through the Safeguard Rule, many financial institutions are scrambling to meet the compliance deadline of June 9, 2023.
What is a Financial Institution?
These standards require financial institutions, including any organization that deals with personal data to execute financial transactions. Some examples include:
- Automobile dealerships
- Financial counselors
- Credit counselors
- Real estate appraisers
- Collection agencies
- Consumer check printers
- Money wiring entities
- Check cashing businesses.
- Store credit card retailers
- Accountants and tax preparation services
- Travel agencies connected with financial services
- Mortgage brokers
- Credit unions
- Finders: Any business that charges a fee to connect buyers with consumers or loans with lenders and is involved in any financial transactions between these parties.
What is the Safeguard Rule?
The FTC Safeguard Rule requires financial institutions to develop, implement, and maintain an adequate information and data security program with the proper safeguards to protect sensitive customer information. Any record considered “non-public personal information” handled by the institution or others must be safeguarded and protected against external threats.
The Safeguard Rule helps protect consumers from having their identity, financial security and personal property compromised. Chances are, you’ve been a victim of financial fraud at some point. Whether your credit card was stolen or worse, your identity, Americans know the risk and cost of compromised data. Hardly a day passes that the news doesn’t announce another organizational data breach, warning customers and consumers to be on the lookout for malicious activity.
How Tax Time CPAs Protects Personal Data?
We take cyber security and the protection of personal data seriously. In 2022, Tax Time CPAs implemented a secure software portal for clients to load information for their tax returns safely. By using the portal, we’ve limited the visibility of personal data to that of authorized users only – such as our tax preparers and CPAs.
Our Tax Time executive team is working to create and publish a policy surrounding data protection, including detailed touchpoints and client information handoffs. We have implemented strict policies regarding employee access to personal data, limiting it to only those with a mandatory need to know.
We invest heavily in acquiring the right software, servers and communication methods to ensure client data is shared safely throughout each touchpoint because we believe keeping your information safe is critical to your long-term financial success. What is your CPA doing to protect you and your business?
Want to learn more about Tax Time CPAs and how we can help your organization? Give us a call, or schedule a time to meet with our staff. We look forward to hearing from you soon.