Tax season is upon us! And let's be honest… Some of us look forward to this time of year and our expected refunds. And some of us who owe money may dread it.
No matter what position you’re in, you are a target. Tax season is a time when emotions run high and stress may get the best of us, skewing our judgment. And unfortunately, this is the prime time when hackers prey. They are on the prowl for personal and financial information, and during tax time much of it is being exchanged over the internet.
Here are a few tips to stay secure this tax season:
- Go paperless - have your W2s and other documents sent via secure online means, instead of through the mail.
- Be aware when going through your emails. Don't click on email senders you don't recognize and even if you do, just delete it. Hackers will create emails to look like TurboTax or H&R Block so you can start plugging in sensitive information, or they will create a link to look like a promo code link. A best practice is to visit the site on your own.
- Be sure to screen your incoming calls and text messages. Don't respond to text messages from numbers you don't recognize. Refrain from giving any personal information over the phone, especially when it's an incoming call. The IRS will never call to demand payment or call unexpectedly about a tax refund.
- Only use secure filing websites with "https:" before the URL. Never send sensitive data over an unsecured connection!
- Enable 2FA (2 factor authentication) wherever you can. Your online tax software should have 2FA available. In fact, the IRS announced in late 2020 that all tax software providers would incorporate multi-factor authentication to enhance the security of user accounts.
- If you receive a suspicious email at your work email address, report it to your security team immediately! If you receive a tax-related phishing or scam email at your personal email, report it to the IRS' dedicated phishing inbox: email@example.com.
- Watch out for your loved ones: It's a sad truth, but the elderly are often targets for scammers and hackers. Make sure your older family members aren't doing anything risky, and that they are aware of phone and email scams. Be a good family member and help them set up secure passwords and 2FA - it only takes a few minutes!