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Tax Season Safety
Let's face it: filing taxes is not on the top of many peoples list of favorites. To make matters a bit more unfavorable, tax season comes with its own set of security issues. And for those in the U.S., tax time is here.
If you're one of the many who turn to the Internet to e-file tax returns, remember that what you submit contains personally identifiable information; in the hands of the wrong person, it's more than enough needed to steal your identity.
How do you stay safe from hackers and phishers this time of year? It's all about using a little caution and common sense:
- Make sure your PC is secure with updated anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software. If you're an Ad-Aware 2007 Free user, run a scan to rid your computer of any spyware or malware that has wormed its way in; Ad-Aware Plus and Pro users benefit from real-time monitoring that detects these deceptive applications before they integrate into PCs.
- Verify that the sites you're using are secure before entering confidential information.
- Use strong, secure passwords for any important interactions.
- If you're sending tax documents by e-mail to your accountant, encrypt your message so that no one else can access it.
- After you're finished using files that contain sensitive information, permanently remove them from your PC with a digital file shredder.
You'll also need to watch for socially engineered scams that are being stepped up as the U.S. tax deadline approaches. Taxpayers are being warned by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to beware of targeted e-mail and phone scams taking advantage of this time of year. Current scams have been known to request confidential information, like Social Security and bank account numbers, in the name of a U.S. government agency. Another reported online attack is said to mimic TurboTax tax-preparation software.
These ploys are expected to continue beyond tax return filing season. Be on the lookout!