Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - Almanac Vol. 60, No. 28
Filing Taxes Online This Year? Take Steps to Protect Your Information!
As of this month, more than 27 million US taxpayers have filed their 2013 taxes online - already a 6% increase over the total number of e-filings for the preceding year. E-filing offers enormous convenience - but it's important to remember that it can also create privacy and security risks. Here are some steps you can take to help avoid the risks while taking advantage of the convenience.
To protect your personal information, use a different password for tax filing than you use to access other online accounts.
Don't file your taxes using unsecured, public wi-fi networks such as those at hotels and coffee shops. The information you are transmitting could potentially be intercepted by fraudsters.
A major strategy for criminals during tax season is to contact individuals by email, pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service. If users click on links in these "phishing" emails malware is downloaded to their computers, for purposes such as stealing passwords and Social Security numbers. Keep in mind that the IRS will never send you any electronic communication, including emails and text messages, that ask for personal information.
Cybercriminals often use stolen information - such as Social Security numbers, addresses and dates of birth - for identity theft, which can include filing fraudulent tax returns and collecting the refunds. If you believe you are the victim of tax-related identity theft contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490.
For more on how to protect your personal data visit www.upenn.edu/privacy and www.upenn.edu/computing/security/
This tip is based largely on a USA Today article that can be viewed at: