As you probably know, the IRS has revamped e-Services to make it more secure. In the IRS’ words:
Starting Dec. 10, 2017, all e-Services users must register through a new, more rigorous identity proofing process called Secure Access.
Any e-Services user who has not previously created a Secure Access account through Get Transcript Online, IP PIN tool, View Balance or by exception processing in recent days must validate their identity through this more rigorous process. This also includes all TIN Matching users and users who received Letter 5903 last December and authenticated by telephone.
This new process is not optional on the part of the IRS or its online users. We apologize for the short notice, but as you know we’ve been planning this move for more than a year. The IRS must make this change to meet federal information system standards. Additionally, cybercriminals increasingly are targeting tax professionals to steal e-Services usernames and passwords, putting taxpayer data at risk.
In recent years, we authenticated each e-Services user individually. When you registered for e-Services, you were asked for your name, address, Social Security number, your date of birth, adjusted gross income and filing status. That limited amount of information no longer is enough to meet federal information system standards. Users will continue to be authenticated as individuals.
Here’s how Secure Access helps –
· First, it strengthens the initial identity proofing process to make sure the person registering is who they say they are.
· Second, it strengthens security through a two-factor authentication process for returning users that helps prevent account takeover by cybercriminals. Two-factor authentication means you must have your credentials (username and password) plus a security code sent to your mobile phone or generated by your IRS2Go app each time you log in.
Once you have authenticated your identity and established a Secure Access account for e-Services, there is no further action required. Please note: under Secure Access, you can no longer script the login process.
Learn more about the steps you must take to successfully complete the Secure Access process, alternatives to online processing and how to use the IRS2Go app. See “Important Update about Your e-Services Account” at www.irs.gov/eservices.
We have heard that the new protocol is not going very smoothly for many e-Services users. The National Taxpayer Advocate reported last year that the verification rate was about 30 percent.
One member shared that every time she tried to log in, an error message indicated that the site was down for maintenance (although the IRS had not issued any alerts). After several weeks of trying, she gained access, but the system could not confirm her mobile number. If this happens, the IRS will mail a PIN within five to 10 calendar days (according to its website). Count on 10 days.
The good news is that once authentication is re-established, it works well. You will receive a six-digit security code on your cell phone each time you log in. When you enter this code, a page titled “Online Security Information” shows your recent login history. You can retrieve transcripts for clients for whom you have a Power of Attorney on file and perform other tasks.
If you were not a user before this change was implemented, you can register as a new user. Just be patient!