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Keep Your Information Safe This Tax Season

Data thieves work year-round to try to gain access to accounts and are particularly busy during tax season. The IRS warns taxpayers that the agency is seeing a large increase in bogus email schemes that seek to steal money or tax data.

The most common way for cyber-criminals to steal money, bank account information, passwords, credit cards, and Social Security numbers is through social engineering; basically, they simply ask for them. Every day, people fall victim to phishing scams or phone scams that cost them their time and their cash.

Here are a few steps you can take to keep your information safe this tax season: 

  • Be vigilant and skeptical. Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. Even if the email is from a known source, the recipient should approach with caution. Cyber-crooks are good at acting like trusted businesses, friends, and family. This even includes the IRS and others in the tax business.
  • Double check the email address. Thieves may have compromised a friend’s email address. They might also be spoofing the address with a slight change in text. Remember that the bank, IRS, or any other reputable business will never initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email to ask for personal or financial information. This includes asking for information via email, phone calls, text messages, and social media channels. The IRS does not call taxpayers with aggressive threats of lawsuits or arrests.
  • Do not click on hyperlinks in suspicious emails. When in doubt, you should not use hyperlinks. Instead go directly to the source’s main web page. You should also remember that no legitimate business or organization will ask for sensitive financial information by email.
  • Use security software to protect against malware and viruses found in phishing emails. Some security software can help identity suspicious websites that are used by cyber-criminals.
  • Use strong passwords to protect online accounts. Experts recommend the use of a passphrase, instead of a password. Use a minimum of 10 digits, including letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Use multi-factor authentication when offered. Two-factor authentication means that in addition to entering a username and password, the user must enter a security code. This code is usually sent as a text to the user’s mobile phone. Even if a thief manages to steal usernames and passwords, it’s unlikely the crook would also have a victim’s phone.
  • Report phishing scams. Taxpayers can forward suspicious emails to
  • Ensure your tax preparer is using secure methods when handling your information.
  • File your taxes before someone else does it for you!