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Lynda Artesani Says: “Safe Ways to Send Documents with Sensitive Employee Information over the Internet”

 

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News headlines about data breaches at companies like Equifax and related, looming threats from Intel chips have put many of us are on high alert. But it’s not just big companies that need to be on guard – small businesses and anyone handling sensitive information can be targets for data theft.

 

Business owners and managers play a key role in preventing identity theft and fraud by leveraging best practices. They need to be extraordinarily careful handling employee data and especially vigilant when sending documents containing sensitive information over the web.

 

As a cardinal rule, never send important forms like 1099s and W-2s through regular email. We cannot stress security enough (add three more underscores). Financial and personal information is serious business.

Security is top of mind for Intuit. This is precisely why we created the QuickBooks Online Accountant - Document Center and added the “create client request” button in the Work Tab so accountants can securely share documents with their clients. Financial data remains secure while on QuickBooks, but once it’s outside the program, you need to take necessary precautions. 

 

 

So what do you do if you need to send urgent, time-sensitive documents (such as 1099s and W-2s) to your employees, vendors or independent contractors?

 

 

Artesani Bookkeeping founder, QuickBooks Certified Pro Advisor and established community contributor Lynda Artesani (@lynda) has been guiding QuickBooks users through the perilous task of sending sensitive documents over the web for many years:

 

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Lynda encourages us to be especially cautious during tax season when threats are high and thieves are looking ways to exploit software vulnerabilities and humans’ lapse in judgement.

 

 

“Many people who get 1099s use their SSN as the Tax Identification

Number - TIN. We just don't need unscrupulous people stealing SSN's

because we neglectfully send forms through regular email. Secure is the

way to go with any sensitive data. Better safe than sorry!”

 

 

Never compromise on safety, even if the method you choose isn’t the fastest. Here are a few recommendations for how to send important financial documents securely over the web.

 

 

 

1. Always have your independent contractors access their 1099s via secure QuickBooks connection 

 

As QuickBooks engineer @RandyR explained on a thread during the previous tax season, in order to view and print their 1099s, contractors are required to create an Intuit account through QuickBooks Self-Employed for verification purposes. Contractors are not required to sign up for the actual program, and there’s no fee. Just make sure your contractors provide working email addresses so they can create an account and access the firm directly as many times as they need.

 

 

 

2. Use an email encryption service 

 

Lynda has had success using programs like Citrix ShareFile, which adds additional layers of security to Microsoft Outlook. With just a few extra steps, you can send forms via direct email! We can’t recommend any particular program since there are so many options. Shop around, and find the one that fits your budget.

 

 

 

3. Create an encrypted shared folder

 

If you’re an accountant, you can take advantage of the QuickBooks Online Accountant - Document Center. Outside of QuickBooks, programs like Box have strong security protocols protecting their cloud storage services. Add a few more layers of security by creating a strong password and limiting access to only your inner circle. If you need upload forms, programs like Box ensure they’re protected by a veritable virtual fortress.

 

 

 

4. Send your documents through snail mail

 

If sending forms securely over the web just isn’t an option, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Print them out, stick them in a security envelope and drop them in the old Pony Express. Anonymity is king - unlike the virtual world, where a massive data dump can compromise thousands of files in an instant, thieves will have a very difficult time rooting around the mail looking for one specific envelope.

 

 


 

 

Now it’s your turn

 

How you do to keep your tax forms safe and secure? What tools and methods can you recommend to the community?

1 Comment
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Lynda Artesani Says: “Safe Ways to Send Documents with Sensitive Employee Information over the Internet”

This info is so timely! And information security concerns stretch well beyond tax season. By taking all necessary precautions to protect employees' sensitive data - and communicating that cybersecurity commitment internally -  you offer peace of mind and build trust among the team that supports your business all year long. Really great recommendations here, @lynda!

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