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Tax season is finally upon us and for many it can be a stressful time. Tax season creates opportunities for cyber criminals to steal personal information and use it to commit fraud. In celebration of Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week here are some tips to protect yourself from identity theft!

  • Don’t Post Personal Information: With the advent of social media it has become easier than ever to share personal information online. By posting personal information it creates clues that cyber criminals can use to determine your passwords. The more a criminal knows about you, the easier it is to impersonate you. Try to limit what you share about yourself online.

  • File Taxes ASAP: Once cyber criminals have your personal data they’re ready to use it to commit tax fraud. Their goal is to file a false tax return before you post your actual tax return. By filing your taxes as soon as possible you are protecting yourself from an attack. The IRS started accepting tax returns on January 27, 2020, so if you haven’t already, go file your taxes!

  • Create Layers of Protection: One way to add layers of protection to your accounts is to use a two-factor authentication program. This works by using a password and then sending a secondary verification, such as a code via text message, to ensure that you are actually trying to log into your account. Another simple way to protect your accounts is to use different passwords for each account. This ensures that if one of your accounts is breached the others will be safe.

  • Use Reputable Websites: Many people choose to file their taxes online because of how easy and cost-effective it is. This is a great resource for many, but also comes with risks. Cybercriminals create phony websites to impersonate reputable ones. If you are filing your taxes online be sure to carefully research different sites before choosing one.

  • Be Wary of Suspicious Messages: Another way that cyber criminals attack is by impersonating the IRS. They reach out via phone call or email and use scare tactics, such as saying you are going to be fined if you don’t resolve an issue immediately, to trick you into sharing your information. The IRS would never ask for personal information to be shared over the phone or via email. If you have been contacted and are unsure if it is authentic contact your local IRS office: IRS Local Office Locator 

Sources: Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft | CISATax Identity Theft Awareness Week | CISATax-Related Identity Theft | FTCWhat to Communicate About Tax Season

Posted in: Security Corner
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