Tips on avoiding tax-related identity theft

IRS provides info on keeping your finances safe

SAN ANTONIO - The IRS has these tips on protecting your tax data and identity:

Keep Personal Data Safe

Be vigilant with personal information. While taxpayers are shopping for gifts, criminals are shopping for sensitive data including credit cards, financial accounts, and Social Security numbers. Taxpayers should use strong, unique passwords for each online account and avoid routinely carrying a Social Security card. Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi in public locations while holiday shopping.

Avoid Phishing Emails by Data Thieves

Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls, and texts from thieves. People should never click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious email addresses. Remember that the IRS doesn't initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email or phone to request personal or financial information.

Avoid the W-2 Scam

Employers can take steps to protect their employees’ data from the growing W-2 email scam. Employers and payroll offices should educate employees about how to recognize an email from a thief who wants to gain access to sensitive employee data so they do not respond to these scam emails.

Use Security Software

Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files, such as tax records, stored on computers. Use strong, unique passwords for each account.

Take Steps to Protect Data After a Breach

There are specific things that data theft victims can do after a criminal steals their information. This includes using credit monitoring services, putting a freeze on accounts and resetting passwords.

Watch Out for Scams

Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as banks, credit card companies and even the IRS or a tax software firm. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.

Beware of Scams Against Employers

Just like individuals, businesses may have their identities stolen. Small businesses and large businesses alike should protect their employer identification numbers. For 2018, the IRS is also asking that employers provide additional information to help verify the legitimacy of their tax return. Such information includes filing history, payment history and parent company information. In the case of a sole proprietorship, the IRS might ask for a driver’s license number.

Protect Personal Data

Don’t routinely carry Social Security cards and make sure tax records are secure. Shop at reputable online retailers. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.

For more information from the IRS on identity theft protection and tax scam avoidance, click HERE

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