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You don’t want to put your sensitive information at risk during tax season. Here are some important tips to follow to protect your information as you do taxes.
Tax season is upon us once again. Depending on your circumstances, you may be excited to get a refund or dreading the complex process of filing taxes as a business and the money you may owe. Whatever your circumstances, there are some security tips you need to keep in mind as you do your taxes online. Being safety-minded throughout tax season is important because you want to avoid compromising yourself and having your sensitive data stolen by cybercriminals.
1. The IRS will never ask you to take action through email.
The IRS is a pretty old-school organization. They conduct most of their business through snail mail. While this practice can seem outdated, it does offer some serious security advantages. Because you know you will only get major communications from them through regular mail, you will have an easy time identifying potential fraud when a cybercriminal sends you a fake email asking you to do something related to your taxes.
For example, you might get an email telling you to follow a link in the email and log in to your IRS account. If you get such an email you can guarantee that it is fake. Remember, the IRS will only ask you to take action through a regular letter in the mail. If you get an email that seems suspicious, don’t respond to the email. Instead, call the IRS and verify that they actually need something from you. You can almost guarantee that they will tell you the email was fake.
2. Instead of following email links, just go directly to the website.
Smart cybercriminals can create emails that look a lot like the real thing. Their goal is to get you to follow a link to a site that looks legitimate – but is actually intended to collect your sensitive information for identity theft. Sometimes the emails and the links can fool people even when they are being extra careful, which is why it is better to skip the link altogether and go straight to the website.
By typing in the website address you want to go to, you know you are going directly to the location you intend – and not accidentally being detoured into a trap to steal your information.
3. Use 2-factor authentication.
Some websites and apps will give you the option of using 2-factor authentication. Instead of just putting in your username and password, you will also go through an additional step to verify your identity. Although it can be a little more time consuming, 2-factor authentication can help you protect your information from cybercriminals. Try it out during tax time and you will see it’s not that much more trouble to protect your identity.
You may need to find the option to enable 2-factor authentication, so keep a lookout for it as you log in to different sites.