As politicians debate whether to extend the tax deadline, many are still preparing to file by April 15. At the same time, scammers are ramping up their efforts to steal your personal information, money or identity. The National Cyber Security Alliance and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have provided some simple, actionable steps you can take to stay safe online.
Their tips include red flags to help you spot a scam and best practices for working with your tax preparer – click here for their tip sheet, “Stay Safe Online During Tax Time.” We’ve included highlights of their tops below.
PREPARE YOUR DEVICES
Before you get started, you’ll want to ensure that your personal and financial information remain secure.
Strengthen your login access by creating long and unique passwords. If possible, make it at least 15 characters with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Click here for tips on choosing and protecting passwords.
Update your software. Make sure you have the most current version of software to improve the performance and security of your computers, phones, and tablets.
Avoid public Wi-Fi. When filing your taxes online, make sure you’re using a secure and personal network.
BEWARE OF SCAMS
Be suspicious of any calls, emails or texts claiming to be from the IRS or government agencies. Almost all contact from the IRS will come in the mail through the U.S. Postal Service. If you receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or another agency, hang up. You can go online and look up the direct number for the agency, and call them to verify any requests.
If you receive a suspicious email or text asking you to click on a link, or share personal or financial information, just delete it. You can also report any IRS, Treasury or tax-related phishing scams to [email protected].
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