Tax season has officially arrived which means it is prime time for tax scams and identity theft. It is important to protect your valuable personal and financial information. To help you, we rounded up a few tips to stay safe this tax season.
Tax Season Safety Tips For Filing Your Taxes Online
Be cautious of cybercrime. Avoid phishing and malware schemes by being on the lookout for messages that prompt you to click a link to share private data. These links often contain malware that installs on your computer or mobile device without your authorization or even knowledge. Cybercriminals use malware to steal your personal information.
Keep your security software, web browser and operating system up–to-date to defend against unwanted viruses and malware.
Guard your online accounts by enabling authentication tools and creating strong passwords.
Avoid using public Wi-Fi when filing your taxes online (or any tasks that contain private information). Public Wi-Fi connections are not secure, making it easier for cybercriminals to intercept your personal information.
Only Hire Tax Preparers You Personally Met and Trust
An impostor committing tax preparer fraud may target unwary taxpayers, resulting in tax refund fraud or identity theft. Only hire professionals who you have personally met and trust. Any tax preparer is required to sign your tax return with their IRS preparer identification number.
Avoid Phone Scams
Be leery of callers claiming to be an IRS employee. These criminals may claim you owe money, threaten legal action, or promise money for unclaimed refunds. The IRS will not call you for immediate payment but mail you a bill instead.
Prevent Fraudulent Tax Returns
One of the most effective tax season safety tips to prevent fraud is to file your tax return as soon as possible. Since only one return is accepted per social security number, it makes it impossible for a scammer to submit another return with your personal information. It’s also important to check your credit report regularly for suspicious activity, and to always shred documents that have your bank account numbers or social security number on them.
If you suspect fraud or identify theft on your accounts, contact your financial institution immediately. Call Community Bank Owatonna at 507-455-2265 if you suspect identity theft or fraud involving any of your CBO accounts.