Tax Time is No Time for Fraud
March 22nd, 2021
Tax season can be a stressful time and criminals waiting for you to slip up so they can steal your personal information, money and identity. Stay safe online while filing your taxes with these tips that you can use to help protect yourself and your money from falling victim to Identity theft – especially during tax season:
Secure Your Login – Create long and unique passphrases for all your accounts. When possible, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) – an extra layer of security and protection. MFA examples include:
- a thumb, or fingerprint instead of or in addition to a password, or
- setting up a request for text verification that sends you a unique code to enter to verify your login information. Most major online tax preparation services offer this.
Update Your Software – Before you pull out your receipts and begin the tax filing process, check to ensure that your computer is running the most current versions of software.
- Key software to pay attention to: Anti-Virus, Browsers, Desktop Tax Software, Mobile Device Apps.
Be Cautious of Public Wi-Fi – Public Wi-Fi is convenient, but not secure. If you are filing your taxes online or accessing your bank account information, do so over a personal, secure network.
- The use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a plus in protecting your identity, funds, and information when online. VPNs are available for personal computers and mobile devices.
Red Flags – Criminals try to catch you online, via email and even via text messages to your mobile device. Be aware of unsolicited requests for personal information. Keep in mind:
- The IRS will NEVER ask you for your social security number.
- A valid organization will NEVER ask you for your login information or your password.
- The IRS will NEVER contact you via text.
- A valid organization will NEVER ask you if they can log into your computer or device to “check things” or “help out”.
- If you do not know the sender, DON’T OPEN THE EMAIL. Delete it.
- Beware of the urgency of the message. Criminals play on fear and quick misjudgments.
For more tips to protect your personal information online visit www.StaySafeOnline.org and check out the Resources links below.
- firstname.lastname@example.org – Report of IRS, Treasury, or other tax-related phishing scams.
- https://www.ic3.gov/ - File a complaint if you or another person have been the victim of a cybercrime. Close to 800,000 complaints were filed in 2020 which is 300,000 more than were reported in 2019.
- https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/get-an-identity-protection-pin - Protect your identity from tax-related ID Theft.