With tax season well under way, it is important for tax payers to be extra vigilant when it comes to security and privacy.
Every day, the theft of personal and financial information puts people at risk of identity theft. Generally, thieves try to use the stolen data as quickly as possible to sell the information to other criminals. From there, thieves will often withdraw money from a bank account, make credit card purchases, and could even file a fraudulent tax return for a refund using victims’ names.
Victims of a data loss should try to determine what information the thieves compromised. The compromised information may include emails and passwords, or more sensitive data, such as name and Social Security number. Victims should take advantage of credit monitoring services when offered by the affected organization. It is also a good idea to place a freeze on credit accounts to prevent access to credit records. It varies by state, but there may be a fee to place a freeze on an account. At a minimum, victims should place a fraud alert on their credit accounts by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus. A fraud alert isn’t as secure as a freeze, but it’s free.
Resetting passwords on online accounts, especially those of financial sites and email and social media accounts, will stop a thief from accessing the victim’s accounts. Use different passwords for each account. Some experts recommend at least 10-digit passwords, mixing letters, numbers, and special characters. Victims may also wish to consider using a password manager or app. Use multi-factor authentication, when available. Some financial institutions, email providers, and social media sites allow users to set their accounts for multi-factor authentication, which requires a security code, usually sent as a text to their mobile phone, in addition to a username and password.
All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. LR Tax & Accounting offers tax preparation and tax resolution. We are enrolled to practice before IRS and provide excellent services regarding tax preparation and tax representation. Taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Contact us today to book your tax appointment. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.