How to Protect Personal Information When Filing Taxes
Tax season is an opportune time for hackers to gain access to an abundance of secure information. Consumers are transmitting sensitive data and many are anticipating refund payments. The IRS estimated that it halted more than $4 billion in fraudulent refunds, on 787,000 tax returns during the first nine months of 2016.
Consumers are urged to be wary of hackers and transmit personal information securely to avoid becoming the victim of tax hack scams. CNBC suggests consumers take the following steps to protect tax information when filing their tax returns.
- File Early – as soon as you receive your W-2, you should initiate the filing process. If a scammer files your taxes before you do, the IRS will reject the second filing.
- Monitor your Data – you can track your earnings records with the Social Security Administration here. Also, watch your credit score for any irregular changes.
- Secure your Personal Information – According to a survey by CyberScout, almost 40% of respondents stored digital tax records on their vulnerable computer hard drive or with a cloud storage provider. Use an encrypted USB drive to improve security.
- Talk to your tax preparer – ask about their security procedures. Before you send data via email attachment or fax, ask about a secure file-transfer service or a secure client-access portal.
Waiting to file tax returns gives hackers a greater chance to file first. File early and securely to avoid vulnerability.
Sources: CyberScout, CNBC