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Demystifying IRS e-Services Secure Access Authentication (2)

December 17, 2017

One's name and address on a filed 1040 must exactly match the corresponding entry when signing up for new e-services secure access. But - IRS may have in its records for 'address line 1', address line 2, 'city' and 'country" different info than one sees on one's tax return record. This is especially true for citizens abroad where a taxpayer return record shows 'city' as say, Toronto but IRS record shows city as 'Canada", or where IRS has listed one's postal code in 'line 1 address". Too far fetched ? Nope, it's actually happening and  blocking professionals abroad from registering. Because the result of registering when using one's record of 1040 address when that record doesn't match that of IRS, is dis-allowance of online registration.

 

Starting Dec. 10, 2017, all e-Services users must register through a new, more rigorous identity proofing process called Secure Access. 

This new process is not optional, on the part of the IRS or its online users. 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.

This is a one-time process. Once you have authenticated your identity and established a Secure Access account for e-Services, there is no further action required. 

Steps You Must Take to Register

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.

Before starting the identity proofing process, you should review Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools to learn what you will need to complete the process and how the process will work. You should also review FAQs: e-Services and Secure Access.

You will need to pass various identity proofing stages, including questions to confirm your email, tax return information, financial account information and mobile phone confirmation. 

If you have a mobile phone associated with your name, you may complete the Secure Access process in one session. If you have all the available information, you can complete this process within 15 minutes. If you do not have a mobile phone associated with your name, you may request an activation code by mail, which will be delivered within five to 10 days. By using the activation code by mail feature, you also may return to register your IRS2Go App or any text-enabled mobile phone, including a business phone in a company name.

Alternative steps if you cannot authenticate online

If you are an existing e-Services user and you cannot successfully authenticate online, you have an option called exception processing by phone. You may call the IRS and a customer service representative will ask a series of questions related to your current and prior year tax return information including income information documents. For exception processing, call the e-Help desk at 1-888-841-4648 (select your language, then prompt 1 and remain on the line until an assistor picks up) 7:30 a.m. Eastern to 7 p.m. Eastern.

If you accurately answer all questions, an assistor will create a Secure Access account and issue a temporary password and an activation code by mail. This will allow you to return to e-Services registration and complete the process.
If you are unable to accurately answer the questions related to your tax information, you must make an appointment and visit a Taxpayer Assistance Center to verify your identity in person with two forms of government-issued identification. Once your identity is verified, you must again call the e-Help Desk, an account will be established and an activation code by mail issued to allow you to complete the process.

How to use the IRS2Go App

The IRS2Go app has a new “security” feature that will allow e-Services users to generate the second-factor security code to access accounts. The app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon. It can be installed on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, such as iPads, Samsung or Amazon Fire.

If your mobile apps do not update automatically, you may have to download IRS2Go again before you can see the “security” tab. The IRS2Go app option will assist those e-Services users who cannot use mobile phones in work areas or who may not have internet access.

Again, see Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools for more details on the IRS2Go app.

UPDATE - New e-Services platform and landing page

The move to a new e-Services platform and a new landing page has been completed. All applications and tools for all users, including state users, are now available. During this transition period, there may be some performance issues. Additionally, you can no longer script the login process when accessing e-Services applications.

UPDATE - New e-Services User Agreement

As we make these changes to e-Services, we also will make changes to the e-Services User Agreement. We will notify you in advance when this user agreement is available.

 

To better protect taxpayers, the IRS recently upgraded its identity verification process for certain online self-help tools.  The purpose is to prevent taxpayer impersonations and account takeovers by identity thieves. Because the Secure Access Authentication platform is more rigorous, it helps if you prepare to register in advance.

Currently, the Secure Access Authentication process applies to the Get Transcript Online, Get an IP PIN, e-Services and your tax account tools.

Here’s what new users need to get started:

  • A readily available email address;

  • Your Social Security number;

  • Your filing status and address from your last-filed tax return;

  • Your personal account number from a:

    • credit card, or

    • home mortgage loan, or

    • home equity (second mortgage) loan, or

    • home equity line of credit (HELOC), or

    • car loan
      (The IRS does not retain this data)

  • A readily available mobile device. For instant access, your name must be associated with a U.S-based mobile phone capable of receiving text messages.  If the mobile phone number cannot be linked to your name, you may opt for a mailed activation code during registration. 

Note: 

If you have a “credit freeze” on your credit records through Experian, it must be temporarily lifted before you can successfully complete this process.

The credit card cannot be American Express, a debit card, or a corporate card issued in your name by your company or organization.

Because this process involves verification using financial records, there may be a “soft inquiry” placed on your credit report. This notice does not affect your credit score. The IRS does not retain your financial account information.

If you have a pay-as-you-go mobile phone or a business/family plan mobile phone not associated with your name, you may request that we mail an activation code to the address we have on file for you. To complete the registration process, you still must have either 1) a text-enabled, U.S.-based phone to receive a security code via text or 2) the IRS2Go mobile application to receive a security code within the IRS2Go app.

If you have already created an account with Secure Access and need to change your phone number, you must re-register.

First-time users of any Secure Access-supported tool must:

  • Submit name and email address to receive a confirmation code;

  • Enter the emailed confirmation code;

  • Provide SSN, date of birth, filing status and address on the last filed tax return;

  • Provide some financial account information for verification such as the last eight digits of their credit card number or car loan number or home mortgage account number or home equity (second mortgage) loan number or home equity line of credit;

  • Enter a mobile phone number to receive a six-digit activation code via text message OR request an activation code by mail (see below);

  • Enter the activation code sent to mobile phone;

  • Create username and password, create a site phrase and select a site image.

First-time users who opt for an Activation Code by Mail must:

  • Complete the steps above through financial account information;

  • On the mobile phone verification page, select “Receive an activation code by postal mail”;

  • Create username and password, create a site phrase, select a site image, and select secret questions;

  • Allow 5 to 10 business days for mail delivery of the activation code;

  • Return to the online service and enter your username and password;

  • Enter the activation code at the prompt;

  • Enter number for any type of text-enabled phone at the prompt (this may include a pay-as-you-go mobile phone or a business/family plan mobile phone not associated with your name); and/or select the option to receive a security code via the IRS2Go mobile application;

  • Complete mobile device activation;

  • Check mobile device for a security code;

  • Enter the security code at the prompt to complete the Secure Access registration process.

Returning users with existing credentials but new to Secure Access must:

  • Log in with an existing username and password;

  • Submit financial account information for verification, for example, the last eight digits of a credit card number or car loan number or home mortgage account number or home equity (second mortgage) loan account number;

  • Submit a mobile phone number to receive an activation code via text OR request an activation code by mail (see above).

Returning users who previously completed the Secure Access process must:

  • Log in with an existing username and password;

  • Receive a security code via mobile device provided during account set up;

  • Enter the security code into secure access.

  • You will need a security code each time you log into Secure Access.   

Using the IRS2Go Mobile App to Receive a Security Code:

  • The IRS2Go app is a mobile app that is available for Android smartphones, Android tablets, iPhones, iPads, and Amazon Fire tablets.

  • IRS2Go offers the option to generate the security code needed for each login.  There is a one-time registration process where your app-enabled device must be connected to the internet. After registering the mobile device, you do not need to be connected to the Internet to generate the security code via the IRS2Go app. To use the IRS2Go Security Code feature, the time on your mobile device must be accurate.   

  • There are two ways to select the IRS2Go option to receive the security code needed for each login.

    • The first way to register your IRS2Go app is you can ask for an activation code by mail. When you return to Secure Access and enter the activation code, you will have the option of receiving the security code via text or via the IRS2Go app.  To register the app, select “set up a security code using IRS2Go mobile app”.

    • The second way to register the IRS2Go app is if you’ve previously registered with a mobile phone linked to your name, you can add the IRS2Go app via your profile page after you have logged in.  In the Security Code section, click "set up IRS2Go mobile app authentication".

  • The IRS2Go app may only be connected to one account at a time.  The app cannot support multiple Secure Access users.

  • When you log into an IRS.gov application, you may remove and/or replace your IRS2Go device from your profile page.  When replacing a mobile device, do not remove the IRS2Go app from your original device until you have set up the IRS2Go security code on your new device.  

FAQs for Secure Access Registration – Who is Affected?

I’m a TIN Matching user. Do I need to register through Secure Access?

Yes. All e-Services products will be protected by Secure Access. That means all e-Services users must validate their identities using the Secure Access registration process.

Last December, I received Letter 5903 which asked me to call the e-Help Desk to verify my identity, which I did. Do I need to revalidate?

Yes. If you validated your identity by phone after receiving Letter 5903, you still must authenticate your identity by updating your e-Services account through Secure Access. All current e-Services users, who have not registered for other IRS.gov tools protected by Secure Access, must validate their identities by using Secure Access registration.

I registered for Get Transcript Online last year using Secure Access. What do I need to do?

If you created an IRS account last year using a tool protected by Secure Access, for example Get Transcript Online or Get an IP PIN tools, your authentication information automatically will migrate to Secure Access, including your existing e-Services username. Once e-Services moves behind Secure Access, you will be asked to change your e-Services password.

Can I change my user name when I register through Secure Access?

No. Your e-Services username is permanent and cannot be changed.

Can I change my e-Services password?

Although your username is permanent and will remain the same, you will be asked to change your password to meet new password protocols.

As a taxpayer, I passed Secure Access last year when I registered through the Get Transcript Online or Get an IP PIN tool. I used a different username and password because it is a personal account. How does this affect me?

If you have a personal account for either Get Transcript Online, IP PIN or any Secure Access-protected tool on IRS.gov, your e-Services account will merge with your Secure Access account. You will login using your e-Services user name and  retain your Secure Access password.

FAQs for Secure Access Registration - Getting Started

How do I get started with verifying my identity through e-Services?

Before you start, review Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools.

Here are a few items you will need:

  • A readily available email address;

  • Your Social Security number;

  • Your filing status and address from your last-filed tax return;

  • Your personal account number from a:

    • credit card, or

    • home mortgage loan, or

    • home equity (second mortgage) loan, or

    • home equity line of credit (HELOC), or

    • car loan
      (The IRS does not retain this data)

  • A readily available mobile device that either is text-enabled or supports the IRS2Go app. A text-enabled mobile phone associated with your name will allow you to complete registration in one session. If you want to use a business mobile phone or the IRS2Go app, request the activation code by mail. 
    NOTE: If you have a “credit freeze” on your credit records through Experian, it must be temporarily lifted before you can successfully complete this process. The credit card cannot be American Express, a debit card or a corporate card issued in your name by your company or organization.

What is the difference between the various “codes” used by Secure Access?

There are three codes:

  • A one-time confirmation code is sent to your email address as you begin the registration process and is valid for 15 minutes.

  • A one-time activation code is sent during the registration process to validate your mobile phone.

    • May be sent to your mobile phone and is valid for 10 minutes or;

    • May be mailed to your address of record if you lack a mobile phone associated with your name and is valid for 30 days

  • A six-digit security code generated each time you login to e-Services:

    • May be sent to your mobile phone and is valid for 10 minutes or;

    • May be generated via IRS2Go app and is valid for 60 seconds.

Can several users register the same mobile phone?

No. The system allows only one user per device.

How can I register through Secure Access if I have a business mobile phone and do not have a personal mobile phone associated with my name?

There is an option to receive an activation code by mail. This option will allow you to receive an activation code within five to 10 business days, return to Secure Access and complete the process by entering any text-enabled mobile phone number. The mailed activation code is valid for 30 days.

If I get an activation code by mail, do I still need a mobile phone?

No. We have the IRS2Go app available for use on mobile devices in lieu of the mobile phone requirement. Upon completing the activation code process, you will be prompted to provide a text-enabled mobile phone number OR use the IRS2Go app in lieu of a text to receive the recurring security code. IRS2Go can be used on many types of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. This includes phone or tablet products supported by Apple, Android and Amazon. It does not include laptops or computers.

 

What is the benefit of the IRS2Go app?

After you have successfully registered through Secure Access, the app will generate a security code for e-Services users. You do not need to be connected to the Internet to receive a security code through the app. But you do need an app-enabled mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet. This is to assist those users who may be in offices that do not receive cell service or are not Internet connected.

If we use the IRS2Go app, can several people use the same tablet?

No. Each individual must have his or her own mobile device, such as a smart phone or tablet. 

I don’t have Internet service at work, can I still use IRS2Go app?

Your app-enabled device will need to be connected to the Internet to complete an initial, one-time set up and receive a one-time digital key. However, after this set up, the app itself will generate a security code as needed and do so offline. Your device does not need to be connected to the Internet to generate the recurring security code needed for each login.

Is there an option to have a landline instead of a digital device to receive security codes?

The IRS is working toward an option that would send a voice text to your landline phone, but it is not available at this time.

 

Where can I get the IRS2Go app?

The IRS2Go app is available for free at iTunes App Store, Google Play and Amazon. It will work on mobile devices powered by Apple (iPhone and iPad), Android (phones and tablets by Google, Samsung and other manufacturers) or Amazon (Amazon Fire tablets.)   Learn more about the IRS2Go app at Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools.  

FAQs for Secure Access Registration – the Exception Process

I’m unable to register through Secure Access, what is my option?

If you are an existing e-services customer and cannot authenticate your identity through Secure Access, you may call the e-Help Desk and verify your identity over the phone. If you successfully authenticate your identity via phone, the IRS assistor will establish your Secure Access account, issue a temporary password and issue you an activation code by mail. You must return to the Secure Access registration to complete the process by providing a text-enabled mobile phone number or establishing IRS2Go, which will enable you to receive the recurring security code each time you login.

What do I need to successfully authenticate my identity by phone?

You will need access to your email and your most recent and prior year tax returns as well as documents such as information returns and associated schedules.

Can I skip the online process and call the e-Help Desk to authenticate?

It is much faster and easier to authenticate your identity online. We will add additional telephone support assistors in late October, but we do anticipate an increased call volume.

I hired several new employees who have failed the online Secure Access process. Can they use the exception process?

 

No. The exception process is only for existing e-Services users. If you hire employees who do not currently have an e-Services account, they cannot use the exception process; they must complete the Secure Access process online.

What is my option if I cannot authenticate by phone?

 

If you are an existing e-Services user and you are unable to authenticate your identity through the online Secure Access process or by phone through the exception process, you will need to make an appointment to visit a Taxpayer Assistance Center to identity proof in-person. You must bring two forms of government identification. Once your identity is validated at a TAC, you must call the e-Help Desk again so they assistor can establish a Secure Access account, create a temporary password and issue an activation code by mail. 

 

Can I skip the online process and call the e-Help Desk to authenticate?

It is much faster and easier to authenticate your identity online. We will add additional telephone support assistors, but we do anticipate an increased call volume.

 

 

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