Identity Thieves are especially active around tax season. All that personal information, those bank account and Social Security numbers, all those millions of harried taxpayers rushing to file their taxes on time...conditions ripe for exploitation.
To help taxpayers protect themselves against identity fraud, the IRS has published some helpful guidelines. Please share these with your friends and loved ones:
Keep Your Computer and Mobile Phone Secure
- Use firewall and security software, set it for automatic updates;
- Treat your personal information like cash, don’t leave it lying around;
- Use strong, unique passwords; consider a password manager;
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication;
- Give personal information only over encrypted websites - look for “https”addresses;
- Back up your files.
Avoid Phishing Scams and Malware
Identity thieves use phishing emails to trick users into giving up passwords and other information. Don’t take the bait. Look for:
- Emails that pose as trusted source, i.e. bank, taxprovider;
- Emails with an urgent message, i.e. update your account now!, with instructions to open a link or attachment;
- Never download software or apps from pop-up advertising;
- Talk to family about online security, both with computers and mobile devices.
Protect Your Tax Return
Taxpayers who can validate their identities can obtain an Identity Protection PIN. An IP PIN is a six-digit code that prevents an identity thief from filing a fraudulent tax return using your Social Security number. (Learn more at www.irs.gov/ippin).
If you are an identity theft victim and your tax account is affected, review www.irs.gov/identitytheft.
Should you have questions about this or any other topic, we’re always available for a conversation. Be safe out there!