Our Secure Email and File Transfer Portal
For the benefit of our customers, we use a secure email and file transfer portal when exchanging documents with personal information. Our secure email portal complies with strict standards to protect your information, including HIPAA and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
Why Do We Need a Secure Email Portal?
Email itself is not secure. Some of the solutions other tax preparers use, such as password protecting a PDF file, are also not secure. To see why, just do a Google or Bing search for “PDF Password Remover” and you’ll get thousands of sites with free password removers. Email sent over the internet is sent through different protocols, but all of them are able to be viewed by any number of people including all the technicians at your web host or ISP, and any server the email relays through. There are literally hundreds of people who could read the email without you ever knowing it. In fact, if you use a wireless router, or view the email on your mobile device, the email can be “sniffed” by someone nearby. The risk for identity theft is just too high for us to rely on simple password protection.
State of the Art and Legal Requirements
Many of the privacy laws are still pending, but we aren’t going to wait. Both the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act have provisions that require financial providers to protect consumer privacy. And, they include tax preparers and bookkeepers in that ‘financial service provider’ category. To be honest, the solution is so inexpensive, we don’t see why every company doesn’t use a secure email portal.
How Our Secure Email Portal Works
Instead of sending email through the normal email system, our secure email portal uses the same 256k encryption channel that your bank uses … you know, that “https” connection. If you use Outlook for your email, it is all handled within the Outlook interface. If not, you visit the secure email portal on the web to read email, download attachments, or reply back to us.
Free to You (we pay the bill!)
There’s a simple process to set you up with an account that is absolutely free to you. This tutorial will walk you through the process.
Step One: Secure Email Setup Email
We send you an email that is set to be viewed once. Instead of delivering your email, our secure email portal will send you a message that the secure email is ready for you to view. Click on the link in that email, and you’ll be prompted to create a new account. Don’t worry, this is free to you, and simple to do:
The screenshots above show just how easy it is to create your account. When done, the secure email portal will show you the email, and advise me that it has been viewed. I will confirm that it was actually YOU who singed in and set up the account by telephone or separate email.
When we are sure you are the owner of the new account, we are ready to start exchanging secure email with the confidence that it cannot be easily intercepted.
This image shows what a message looks like that has an attachment – in this case our free 2012 Individual Tax Organizer. The secure email portal works just like regular webmail, but if you need help, just ask. I’ll be happy to help you get the hang of it.
Replies are Easy Too!
When you reply to a message, the portal lets you know it was successful.
The secure email portal also advises us when you read the email. This helps us make sure you have received the time sensitive information we have in the tax business:
If you use Outlook, there is a free Outlook Add In. After the initial account set up, you will receive and send emails from the Outlook interface, just like every other email. The difference, of course, is that even while using the Outlook interface the email and the attachments are encrypted, sent via the secure HTTPS channels, and stored on the secure servers.
Secure Email and File Portal – Just Another Way we are Looking Out for You!
We want to exceed your expectations, and using this easy, free-to-you system helps us meet that goal. Please let us know if you have any questions!