Tax Scams and Identity Theft During Tax Season: 10 Crucial Tips to Limit Risks

Tax scams, identify theft and other malicious attacks are on the rise against individuals and companies.

Tax season can be a vulnerable time, as scammers and identity thieves become more active in attempting to steal personal information and tax returns. Safeguarding your financial and personal data is paramount.

In this post, we’ll share 10 important tips to help you avoid falling victim to tax scams and identity theft during tax season in the USA, with a focus on staying secure when using the internet and mobile devices.

 

1. Verify Tax Professionals:

Before sharing personal information with a tax professional, ensure they are legitimate and have the necessary credentials. Verify their qualifications, read reviews, and avoid any who promise unusually large refunds or request upfront fees.

 

2. Use Secure Websites:

When accessing tax-related websites, ensure that the URL begins with “https://” and includes a padlock symbol. These signs indicate that the website encrypts your data, enhancing security against potential cyberattacks.

 

3. Beware of Phishing Emails:

Be cautious of unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS or tax agencies. Scammers often use phishing emails to trick you into revealing personal information. Never click on links or download attachments from suspicious emails.

 

4. Strong Passwords:

Use strong, unique passwords for your online tax accounts. Incorporate a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or names.

5. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):

Enable 2FA whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your mobile device, in addition to your password.

 

6. Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks:

Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks to access sensitive tax-related information. Public networks are less secure and can be more susceptible to hacking attempts.

 

7. Update Software and Apps:

Regularly update your operating system, software, and apps on your devices. Updates often include security patches that protect against known vulnerabilities.

 

8. Be Wary of Phone Calls:

The IRS does not initiate contact through phone calls, text messages, or social media. If you receive a call claiming to be from the IRS, it’s likely a scam. Hang up and independently verify using official contact information.

 

9. Secure Document Storage:

Keep physical copies of sensitive tax documents in a locked, fireproof safe. For digital copies, use encrypted storage solutions and regularly back up your data.

 

10. Use Reputable Mobile Apps:

If you use mobile apps for tax-related activities, ensure they come from reputable sources, like the IRS or established tax software providers. Be cautious of fake apps that may attempt to steal your data.

 

Conclusion

Protecting your financial well-being and personal information during tax season requires vigilance and awareness. By following these 10 crucial tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to tax scams and identity theft.

Remember, cybercriminals often target those who are unaware or unprepared, so stay informed, stay cautious, and prioritize your online security when using the internet and mobile devices for tax-related activities.

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Jefferson Martin & Associates CPA (Certified Public Accountants)

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