One only needs to read the daily news to realize that hackers are getting better and protecting your personal data is more important than ever. Criminals continue to steal large amounts of personal data from taxpayers. Thieves use that data to file fraudulent tax returns or commit other crimes while impersonating the victims.
According to the IRS, taxpayers can follow a few simple steps to protect their personal and financial data online.
- Keep a Secure Computer.
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. If you are giving personal information online, make sure it is an encrypted website. Look for “https” addresses.
- Avoid Phishing and Malware.
Don’t respond to phishing emails, texts or calls that appear to be from the IRS, tax companies and other well-known businesses. Instead, verify contact information about a company or agency by going directly to their website. Think twice before opening email attachments.
Download and install software only from known and trusted websites. Use a pop-up blocker.
- Protect Personal Information with Strong Passwords.
It is critical for taxpayers to not only create strong passwords for all tax-related accounts, but to do everything in their power to protect those passwords. Longer passwords are safer and more difficult to guess. A strong password should be a minimum of eight characters. It should include at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number, and one symbol. Do not include personal information in passwords or use the same password for multiple accounts.