Tips for safe online tax preparation and e-filing
To ensure a secure online tax preparation and e-filing experience, BitDefender urges users to follow the security tips below before preparing or filing taxes online:
- Secure your system. Install and update a reliable anti-malware solution, activate the firewall, and make sure the anti-phishing and anti-spam filters are turned on. Conduct a system scan, then download and install the latest security updates and malicious removal tools, as well as other patches or fixes from your operating system provider
- Choose your user name and password carefully. If the e-filing application you are using requires a user account, choose a separate user name and password than what you use for your e-mail, e-banking or e-commerce accounts
- Back-up your data. Make sure you back-up your data and store it securely, using the appropriate tools, such as File Back-Up or File Vault
- File from a secure computer. Avoid using public computers connected to the Internet, like those in a library or Internet CafÃ©, to prepare and file your taxes online. If this is your only option, be sure to run an advanced scanning online tool before starting the tax preparation process
- Use a secure tax preparation and e-filing Website. Make sure the tax preparation Website uses SSL encryption and security authentication – look for the “https” prefix and the locked padlock. If you are asked to accept a certificate for preparing and filing your tax returns, make sure the name on the certificate matches the name of the tax preparation and e-filing application you are using. Also, make sure the certificate is signed by a known Certificate Authority such as Thawte or VeriSign before accepting
- Secure that wireless connection. If using a wireless connection, make sure the connection is secured and encrypted and that you know and trust the owner of the access point. Also, refrain from using an unsecured public wireless connection, like those in airports or hotels, when sending data over the Internet.
Additionally, to protect against spam and phishing schemes, users should not open e-mails and attachments from unknown senders. Users should also not respond or submit personal information to alleged e-mail requests from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or tax preparation companies. These organizations do not send general e-mails addressed to “Dear customer.” They send customized, printed notification forms through the United States Postal Service. Finally, do not click any links contained in spam e-mails, including “Unsubscribe” as it might trigger other malware and compromise system security.