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OTA Finds 46% of IRS Free eFile Sites Fail to Adequately Protect Consumers

Wed, Feb 24, 2016

The Online Trust Alliance (OTA), today announced the results of its 2016 IRS Free E-File Audit & Honor Roll. The audit evaluates the privacy, security and consumer protection practices of the thirteen IRS-approved free e-filing tax services. After an assessment based on nearly 50 criteria, standards and internationally accepted privacy practices, six of the 13 websites or 46 percent failed due to poor site security and not taking steps to help protect consumers from fraudulent and malicious email. Conversely, the sites that performed specifically well received an “Honor Roll” status.

Arming Consumers and Businesses to Fight Tax Scams

As part of the audit and Honor Roll, the OTA has released checklists and best practices to help consumers and organizations protect themselves from common tax scams like IRS impersonation phone calls or emails, bogus e-file ads that appear on reputable websites and business email compromise. More>

Find Out Who Made the Grade

"Tax season is another reminder of how vulnerable our personal information can be online, even when dealing with a trusted entity like the IRS,” said Roxane Divol, General Manager of Website Security for Symantec. “We are happy to partner with the OTA to offer consumers both technologies and guidelines that help safeguard their data online during tax season and year round.”

“In an increasingly web-connected economy, organizations need to value strong identity assurance and data encryption as critical steps to ensuring consumer privacy and security,” said Jason Sabin, Chief Security Officer at DigiCert. “The findings of this report can help advance consumer safety by recognizing e-filers following best practices and providing guidance to consumers in choosing companies they can trust.”

"Every tax season spoofed email is used to defraud consumers of millions of dollars. This is not acceptable and should not be allowed to continue,” said Patrick Peterson, Founder and CEO, Agari. “The email authentication technologies highlighted here by OTA are used by thousands of enterprises to protect consumers. It is essential for every organization conducting transactions online to take these measures to reduce fraud and protect consumers.”

Learn More - Attend the Online Briefings on March 8th

OTA’s 2016 IRS Free E-File Audit & Honor Roll was powered in part by leading organizations including Symantec, DigiCert and Agari. Read the report, methodology and check lists.

Supported by grants from Agari, DigiCert & Symantec