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If you are selling or acquiring an accounting practice, you need to read the AICPA’s new guidance “Transfer of Files and Return of Client Records in Sale, Transfer, Discontinuance or Acquisition of a Practice,” which clarifies the obligations of the selling and the acquiring parties and explains how to deal with clients that do not respond to the notification of the transaction.
Continue Reading Accountants M&A Alert: New AICPA Guidance on Transfer of Client Files

iStock_000074015155_LargeWilson Elser’s Cyber Incident Response Team has seen an alarming uptick in cyber-criminal activity targeted at professional services firms, particularly accounting firms. As described in more detail below, the criminal activity follows a very specific pattern. We take this opportunity to remind all professionals of the need to be wary and skeptical of what communications they receive electronically. Consider starting the New Year with training and education for yourself as well as your partners, staff and employees on cyber risk and how to best avoid an attack and mitigate any damages if an attack occurs. In the past three months, we have noticed a pattern of activity targeted at small to midsize professional services firms. Attackers attempt to gain access to computer systems containing sensitive financial information, which may result in a legal duty on the part of the professional to notify their clients that their confidential information was or may have been exposed.
Continue Reading Rise in Cyberattacks on Professional Services Firms

Magnifying glass keyboard_TS_147860345In the most recent “North America Top Technology Initiatives Survey Results,” CPAs responding to the poll ranked “securing the IT environment” as the number-one priority, followed by “managing and retaining data,” “ensuring privacy,” “managing IT risks and compliance,” and “preventing and responding to computer fraud.” The top five poll results all relate to securing, managing or protecting the information entrusted to CPAs. The poll results are largely consistent with prior years and not particularly surprising in a world where data breaches routinely make national headlines, and CPAs receive and store large amounts of highly personal and confidential data. What is surprising and potentially alarming is the seemingly low levels of confidence the poll respondents had in their ability to protect data.

Continue Reading CPAs Need to Sharpen Awareness of IT Threats

iStock_000039530454_LargeFor years, U.S. Department of Labor Chief Accountant Ian Dingwall has been advising employee benefit plan administrators to avoid using auditors who “dabble” in employee benefit plans. During this period, the DOL has consistently found that approximately one third of the employee benefit plan audits the agency reviews are deficient, and points to the firms that perform fewer than five of these audits as the most common offenders. Building on this public commentary, the DOL has worked vigorously to push out the dabblers, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and a growing number of state boards of accountancy are supporting this effort.

Continue Reading Don’t “Dabble” in Employee Benefit Plan Auditing

IRS Refund_479969589Nearly every day there’s another news story about another company suffering a data breach, either as a result of a lost or stolen device or because the company was hacked. Talk to any number of knowledgeable attorneys skilled in handling breaches, and each will guide you through a similar process for providing notice, obtaining credit monitoring or identity restoration, and complying with regulatory and other legal obligations. Yet no matter the recommendations, the antiquated processes in place at the IRS make it practically impossible for companies to protect someone from a fraudulently filed tax return.

Continue Reading The IRS will not flag, identify or otherwise note a SSN that may be subject to identity theft and subsequent tax fraud. Go figure.