(WWLP) – When it comes to filing taxes, there are some things you may want to look out for so you don’t have any of your information stolen.
Fraudulent Tax Returns are more common than you think. A criminal can use your stolen social security number or personal tax identification number to file a tax return in your name.
They cash in by having your refund re-routed to a different address or bank account.
To help reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, make sure not to leave any tax forms in the car and to shred any paperwork you do not need before throwing them out.
Also, be suspicious of emails claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS does not reach out to taxpayers for personal information unless there is an issue. If you are having someone else do your taxes, make sure they are reliable and credible. Tax season runs through April 18th this year, giving you an extra three days to file.
- Share with care. Posts on social media last a long time. Consider who will see the post, how readers might perceive it, and what information it might reveal about the individual posting it.
- Manage privacy settings. Check the privacy and security settings on web services and apps and set them to your comfort level for information sharing. Each device, application, or browser used will have different features to limit how and with whom you share information.
- Personal info is like money: Value it. Protect it. Personal information, such as purchase history, IP address, or location, has tremendous value to businesses – just like money. Make informed decisions about whether or not to share data with certain businesses by considering the amount of personal information they are asking for and weighing it against the benefits you may receive in return.
- Make your passwords long and strong. Use long passwords with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols – eight characters for most accounts and twelve characters for email and financial accounts. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts, especially email and financial. Keep a paper list of your passwords in a safe place, not on or near your computer. Consider using a password vault application. See BBB’s tips for creating a strong password.
- Keep tabs on apps. Many apps ask for access to personal information, such as geographic location, contacts list, and photo album, before using their services. Be thoughtful about who gets that information, and be wary of apps that require access to information that is not required or relevant to the services they offer. Delete unused apps on your internet-connect devices and keep others secure by performing updates.
- Lock down your login. For your online accounts, use the strongest authentication tools available. Your user names and passwords are not enough; consider two-factor authentication for key accounts like email, banking, and social media, especially for access on mobile devices.
- Don’t click on unfamiliar links. Whether at home or at work, don’t click on links from unfamiliar sources or unexpected correspondence. One false click can infect a whole computer… or a whole business.