Secure Your Personal Information During Tax Season: 3 Actions to Take

Secure Your Personal Information During Tax Season: 3 Actions to Take

Tax season is upon us once again. Over the next 6 weeks, most Americans will spend time online collecting documents and sharing their personal information with household members, tax preparers, and the IRS. This great exchange of information can leave Americans vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. Worse, scammers may anticipate the actions of taxpayers and take advantage of the window of opportunity tax season provides. Consider three easy actions you can take to better protect your personal information.

1) Beware of Fraudulent Search Results

 

When logging into your bank portal, do you go directly to the bank website? Or do you search the name of the bank and click on the first search result that comes up? If you prefer the latter, you are putting yourself at risk. Scammers create elaborately designed fake websites that appear in the search results for trusted institutions. Once an individual visits a fake website, scammers may collect sensitive information or convince the individual to download malware. To fight back, do not search for important websites on your favorite search engine, instead type the known website address into your browser. For your convenience, save correct addresses for all of your important websites to your browser’s bookmarks.

2) Reconsider Email Attachments

 

Tax documents often contain detailed personal information. Sharing electronic files is convenient, but it is important to keep sensitive attachments encrypted and not simply attached to an email. We recommend using password protected documents or a secure file sharing system to protect your information from bad actors.

3) Do Not Text or Email Your Sensitive Information

 

Social Security numbers, account numbers, routing numbers, and credit card numbers are just a short list of the many pieces of information that have no place in your email communications. Emails are easy to intercept. You risk sending an email to the wrong email address. Or, your own email account could be hacked and your sent items mined for sensitive information. To share sensitive information, we recommend a secure information sharing system or an old-fashioned phone call. Always be aware of your surroundings, including anyone nearby, if you’re speaking about sensitive information.

Finally, if you’re ever in doubt about the legitimacy of communication you receive from ShankerValleau, please contact us immediately. While the fight to secure your identity and personal information is a year-round effort, tax season is a great time to remind ourselves of cyber security precautions.