Tips to Keep Your Personal Information Safe – Did You Know?

The ever-present threat of identity theft grows during tax season. To help taxpayers stay safe, the IRS recently offered suggestions to secure your personal data when preparing and filing your returns, and all year long. The most important steps you can take are:

– Use security software. Look for “always on” computer and mobile device apps with antivirus protection and a firewall to block unwanted internet traffic.

– File your return electronically, as early as possible. Your electronic filing not only eliminates the risk of a thief intercepting your paper return in the mail, but also makes it harder for someone else to file a fake return using your social security number (SSN).

– Do not click on links or open attachments in suspicious emails or text messages. If you receive an unsolicited or surprising message supposedly from the IRS, delete it and call the IRS directly to inquire about the matter. Do the same for strange messages that appear to come from banks, online sellers or credit card issuers.

– Protect your personal information at all times. NEVER give your social security number, address, date of birth or other identifying information to anyone, unless you know exactly who they are and why they need the information. Keep your tax files in a secured location in your home or office.

– Use a VPN on shared WiFi. If you must correspond with the IRS or file your return using a shared internet connection, especially public WiFi, install a virtual private network (VPN) on your device.

By following these guidelines, you can reduce the odds that you will become a victim of identity theft.

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Disclaimer: For informational purposes only. Does not constitute legal, financial, or other advice. Consult with a professional before taking any action.