Before you file taxes online, here’s how to do it securely

All tax prep software contains multi-factor authentication

Filing online with direct deposit with the fastest way to get your refund. But, before you file, Consumer Reports offers advice to keep your sensitive financial information secure.

SAN ANTONIO – Like most Americans, Matthew Starcez is filing his tax return online.

“We’ve been doing our taxes online for the last seven years,” he said. “It’s easy. It’s convenient.”

If you use direct deposit, electronic filing is the fastest way to get a refund. So is it safe?

“The IRS says all tax prep software will now have multi-factor authentication,, which asks users for an extra bit of info to log in, like a code sent to their email,” said Consumer Reports security editor Yael Grauer.

Even if someone steals your password, multi-factor or two-factor authentication could still stop them from getting into your account.

But before you even file, security experts say it’s a good idea to make sure your sensitive online financial accounts and router are secure with strong passwords. They suggest you use a string of random words, numbers and special characters. A password manager such as 1Password can help you remember them all.

You can also protect your information by looking for the https or the little lock at the beginning of a web address. If it’s not there, it could be fraudulent.

“Sites with https use encryption to prevent any information you exchange from being spied on or changed while it’s traveling across the internet,” Grauer said.

Newer iPhones and androids come with encryption already enabled. It’s also available for Mac and Windows computers, but you may need to enable it in the security settings.

To help you Consumer Reports offers this security planner.

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.