The ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) has informed tax agents and advisers on the best way to prevent IT related tax fraud to prevent cases reaching HMRC.

With April marking the tax year’s end, the ICAEW expects an increase in fraudulent submissions going through to HMRC via tax agents. Although there haven’t been any reported cases as yet this year, there has been a trend in place for this since 2009.

[themecolor]Tax attacks – be on your guard against tax-related cyber scams[/themecolor]

The method of attack highlighted by the ICAEW involves fraud cases that haven’t come from fake accounts or been a result of HMRC systems breaches, but instead are the result of valid log-in details being stolen from tax advisers and agents. Armed with these credentials, cyber-criminals are able to request payment be submitted to third party bank accounts, whilst appearing perfectly valid.

HMRC has helped police operations in all reported cases, and the ICAEW has issued a warning to all tax agents and advisers so they don’t fall foul of the same criminal techniques.

In its latest warning, the ICAEW urged vulnerable parties to make their entire online experience as secure as possible. As communications and transactions are taking place online more regularly than ever before, the fraud risk has grown simultaneously. To combat this, robust security is needed at both ends of any transaction, to ensure there were no gaps or weaknesses.

Furthermore, with threats becoming ever more sophisticated, agents and advisers also need to keep abreast of related developments, knowing not only what they could be up against but also the best way of dealing with it were the worst to happen.

Concluding, the ICAEW offered some more typical security tips, such as keeping passwords secure and changing them regularly.

HMRC also has its own security measures to protect the online tax system, including a firewall, SSL certification, secure sign-in procedures and time outs. It can only do so much, though, meaning that agents and advisers are also being asked to keep their anti-virus and anti-spyware software updated.