How to Protect Your Personal Information When Filing Your Taxes Online

Do you file your taxes online? E-filing certainly has become a popular and fairly stress-free way to get through tax time, which is confusing and annoying for many people.

According to a recent article by CNBC, more than 27 million taxpayers have already filed their taxes for 2013 from home computers. That’s 6% more than in 2012.

However, as popular as e-filing is, there are precautions we need to take. Cybercriminals can easily file fraudulent tax returns, identity theft is a concern and phishing emails that appear to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can also crop up.

Mustafa Rassiwala, a cybersecurity expert at ThreatMetrix, spoke to CNBC, explaining that suspicious malware-ridden emails can seem legitimate.

“‘We have some problems with your account and I need to get access to your social security number and your address…’ A lot of consumers unknowingly hand over this information,” said Rassiwala.

The CNBC article points out that the IRS does not send electronic communication asking for personal information. Any suspicious emails can be reported to the IRS by forwarding them to phishing@irs.gov.

To protect your personal information online, Rassiwala suggests using a different password for e-filing than the ones you already use for your other accounts. As always, it’s also good to be aware of the information you’re putting on your social media sites – is there anything there that could easily be used to carry out an identity theft? It’s also wise to exercise common sense when choosing where you sit down to do your taxes online – a Wi-Fi connection at your local café is not the best choice, as Rassiwala explains, that connection could be intercepted.

Though we must be careful, there is some comfort in the fact that with e-filing, there are always digital clues left behind in the process. So should you run into trouble, there are ways to track the cybercriminals who have wronged you.

“If you have a user who is filing with the home address supposedly based in Florida and your IP address is coming from somewhere outside the United States, especially from countries that have been known to have fraudulent activities in the past, that should raise a red flag,” said Rassiwala.

 

For more information, read the CNBC article here: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101492083