As the IRS tax filing deadline quickly approaches, Identity Finder released tips to help individuals protect private and personally identifiable information. The IRS reports that nearly 50 million tax returns have been e-filed so far this year.
1. Password-protect all electronic tax returns. Always create complex passwords and never save them unprotected such as to Acrobat PDF or Excel.
2. Don’t send tax documents, social security numbers, or bank numbers via email to an accountant, spouse or anyone, unless they are encrypted.
3. If you receive an email purporting to be from the IRS that requires personal information, do not respond to it. The IRS does not contact individuals via email.
4. Be wary of e-mails or websites with offers of a tax refund for an already-filed return direct-deposited to your bank account.
5. When postal mailing your tax return to the IRS, use certified mail, send it from a secured location, and do not let it sit in the box overnight as it could be stolen.
6. If you receive an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to represent the IRS, do not give personal information over the phone. Hang up and call the IRS directly to answer their questions.
7. Permanently shred unsecured documents from your computer that contain personal information. Printed documents should be traditionally shredded.
8. Pay attention to children¹s identity information as well because more often they are becoming targets. Their information can be harvested at underground websites for years and used later in life to commit identity fraud.
9. Install the latest updates to your operating system and anti-malware software to prevent known vulnerabilities from being exploited.
10. After filing taxes online, clear out the web browser cache. This removes any occurrence of confidential information from temporary disk space.
11. Do not keep unprotected copies of your identity information on your computer.