With little more than a week until Tax Day (April 18th), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning citizens that scams are on the rise and are encouraging extra caution when filing your returns.
Scammers love to take advantage of chaos. Whether it be the fear of the pandemic or the stress of the holiday season, scams always see a notable uptick during some of the most chaotic times of the year.
Unfortunately, that means that tax season is ripe for the picking, and government agencies are doing their best to prepare everyday people for the onslaught of potential security threats.
IRS Warns of Increased Threat During Tax Season
In a post from the IRS last month, the government agency noted that tax season is a particularly fervent time for scammers looking to get a piece of your personal information.
“Solid cybersecurity protection and scam recognition is vital to reduce the threat of identity theft inside and outside the tax system… Taxpayers and tax professionals can take steps to help in this effort by doing things like minimizing cybersecurity footprints and recognizing common scams and schemes.”
Doing your taxes at the last minute is stressful enough. But knowing that scammers are out there trying to get access to your personal information adds another level of anxiety. Fortunately, the IRS is providing citizens with some actionable advice to keep themselves safe.
How to Protect Yourself This Tax Season
In addition to the general warning about increased scam threats during tax season, the IRS is also providing a few key tips and tricks to make sure you don’t get caught this year. Take a look at some of the tips below:
Protect your personal data: Doing your taxes requires a lot of personal information, but that doesn’t mean you should be giving it out to anyone who asks. Keep your Social Security number and other important information as private as possible.
Use strong passwords: Passwords are the frontlines of cybersecurity. Without a good one, you could be left vulnerable to simple hacks that could compromise your personal information. Check out our guide to good passwords or just get a password manager to take care of it for you.
Be vigilant of phishing scams: Hackers will do pretty much anything to get your personal information, and phishing scams are an extremely common means of doing so. Make sure to verify any site, email, or text that asks for your data, as it could be a phishing scam in disguise.
Employ security software: Tools like antivirus software can make a big difference when it comes to your online safety. If you’re really worried about threats like scams, malware, and ransomware, you might want to invest in these kinds of resources.
Always back up your files: If you’re dealing with important information like your taxes, backing up your files can be a lifesaver, particularly in the case of ransomware attacks.
Protect yourself on public Wi-Fi: Don’t do your taxes using public Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop. They are notoriously insecure and could lead to identity theft. If you must, be sure to use a VPN to protect your activity online.