If you’re about to file taxes or are in the midst of working on them the IRS offers tips on how taxpayers should protect their personal and financial data from criminals who continue to steal large amounts of information. Thieves use the data to file bogus tax returns and commit crimes while impersonating the victim, the IRS said.
All taxpayers should follow these steps to protect themselves and their data.
Keep a secure computer. Taxpayers should:
- Use security software that updates automatically. Essential tools for keeping a secure computer include a firewall, virus and malware protection, and file encryption for sensitive data.
- Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.
- Give personal information only over encrypted and trusted websites.
- Use strong passwords and protect them.
Avoid Phishing and Malware. Taxpayers should:
- Not respond to emails, texts or calls that appear to be from the IRS, tax companies and other well-known businesses. Instead, verify contact information about companies or agencies by going directly to their website.
- Be cautious of email attachments. Think twice before opening them.
- Turn off the option to automatically download attachments.
- Download and install software only from known and trusted websites.
Protect personal information. Taxpayers should:
- Not routinely carry a Social Security card or other documents showing a Social Security number.
- Not overshare personal information on social media. This includes information about past addresses, a new car, a new home and children.
- Keep old tax returns and tax records under lock and key.
- Safeguard electronic files by encrypting and properly disposing them.
Shred tax documents before trashing.
Additional Identify Theft, Fraud and Scams Info:
Identity theft places a burden on its victims and presents a challenge to businesses, organizations and government agencies, including the IRS.
The IRS combats tax-related identity theft with an aggressive strategy of prevention, detection and victim assistance. We’re making progress against this crime, as it remains one of our highest priorities.
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. If you become a victim, we’re committed to helping you resolve your case as quickly as possible.
All of these important tips should help you avoid being a victim of scammers who are trying get access as ell as your valuable private and personal information.