April 02, 2019

Tax time & the financial services industry: Are you at risk?

Did you know that 42 per cent of financial service firms have experienced a data breach and that almost 90 per cent of financial IT professionals surveyed in 2017 believed that their institution was vulnerable to a breach? Financial institutions have always been a target for fraudsters, yet during tax season, these organizations are at a heightened risk given the amount of sensitive information that is being handled. If you are a banker or if you work in the financial services industry, do not panic. To help you safely navigate tax season, Shred-it has identified the top four information security risks - and what to do about them.

1. Do not leave a paper trail. Despite what you may think, physical documents are still a leading cause of data breaches. Paper documents and confidential files tend to pile up during tax season, and if these documents get into the wrong hands, both you and your organization could face serious consequences. To help, your financial institution should implement a Shred-it All Policy that requires everyone to shred all documents that are no longer needed.

2. Don’t be fooled by phishing scams. Many employees receive emails from what appears to be C-suite or senior leaders in an organization that actually trick individuals into exposing confidential financial information. These phishing scams generally increase during tax season. It is important to be aware of these risks and know not to open up suspicious looking emails.

3. All employees need to be continuously trained on information security best practices throughout the year. Research has shown that negligent and careless employees are a leading cause of all data breaches. Both human resource departments and employees need to take the initiative to provide these education platforms.

4. Many organizations have implemented flexible work schedules and remote work options for their employees. Despite the many benefits that these work arrangements provide, they also increase the chance of a data breach from occurring if the proper precautions are not taken. During tax season, it is a good idea to work from the office rather than remotely. Receipts, confidential files and tax slips can easily be lost in transit. Additionally, a lot of communal work spaces don’t have shredders for individuals to use, therefore, during tax season, workers should be encouraged to work from the office.

To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment.