How to Get Your Total Peace of Mind This Tax Season

by News Editor on March 1st, 2013 in Security Tips.

Fraudsters are always looking for an opportunity during tax season, they know that a lot of personal and financial information is going to be changing hands. Aside from making sure that your receipts and documents are in order, there are a few other things that you need to make sure to avoid being a victim of identity theft or scams during tax season....

Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a consumer protection agency has prepared a few safety tips that will help you reduce the chances. By following some simple safety precautions and educating yourself about the latest consumer threats, you can protect yourself from tax scams and identity theft.

Here's what you can do:

1.    Make sure that anyone helping you prepare your taxes is trustworthy.
Many of us need help preparing our taxes.  Make sure that your helper is someone you know and trust! If you’re looking for a new accountant or a commercial tax preparer, do your homework.

2.    File your taxes early
This is to reduce the window of time in which a thief could fraudulently file under your Social Security number. You will also cut out last-minute stress and you’ll probably get your refund sooner.

3.    Submit online forms through a secure Internet connection.
Make sure that you are not using a shared connection or free public WiFi. Make sure you are connected to your modem directels or use secure password-protected wireless. Never ever send private financial information over an unprotected internet connection.

4.    If filing by mail, go to the post office directly.
If you do your taxes at home and file them via snail-mail, mail them out yourself. Don’t rely on a third-party to mail your taxes for you. You will never know where it might end up.

5.    Do not respond to email messages from the IRS. 
The IRS will never ask you for any personal or financial information through electronic communications. They won’t email you, text you or contact you via Facebook or Twitter. If you receive a message “from the IRS” asking for your information, it’s most likely a phishing scam. Don’t reply, click links or download attachments. Delete the message and run your computer’s antivirus software immediately. If the IRS needs to contact you, it will do so.

If you’re filing your taxes online, we have a few tactics to ensure your e-filing will be safe and sound, thanks to support.com:

1.    Run your anti-virus scans regularly & perform a full system scan before submitting taxes online.
You have a better chance to find something that got past your anti-virus protection.
Keep in mind that fraud issues are not necessarily found in the site at which you file your taxes. Programs "malware" (malicious software) may already be in the computer, which then opens your personal and financial information to cybercrooks. Make sure that your computer is free from malware or keyloggers that might steal your personal information such as your Social Security Number.

2.    Adjust Internet firewall settings
This will keep out unwanted connections and also prying eyes who might want to steal your information.

3.    Avoid P2P file sharing networks
Sharing files with unknown sources might be a bad idea. These files may contain malicious viruses, malware or Trojan horses. Always make sure you trust and know the source when receiving these files. The network that you are connected to should have powerful firewalls to be able block unwanted guests.

4.   Keep your computer and software updated with the latest releases.
To stay up to date on security patches and software bugs and make sure that your anivirus program is up-to-date!