Post-Tax Season Security Tips

Tens of millions of tax returns have just been filed electronically for the tax year 2007. Anyone who has filed their taxes this way and has their personal information stored unprotected on their computer is vulnerable to the ever-growing threat of identity theft. Stored tax documents are a gold mine for hackers and thieves as every single tax return contains at least one person's social security number.

  • More than 8 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
  • The FTC reported that in 2007 the top category of complaint (32 percent of total complaints received) was identity theft.
  • Consumers reported 2007 fraud losses totaling more than $1.2 billion.
  • The Associated Press recently reported: "Fraudulent tax returns filed as a result of identity theft jumped more than six fold over the past five years."
  • According to IDC, it's projected that black market trafficking of stolen electronic identities will increase to $1.6 billion by the year 2010.

The makers of Identity Finder offer post tax season security tips to prevent identity theft.

1. When storing a copy of your tax return on your computer, make sure you secure it with a password so that your SSN cannot be read if the file is lost.

2. Securely delete all electronic, financial documents used to prepare your tax returns so any personal information is safe.

3. Ignore all refund/rebate/warning e-mails claiming to come from the IRS and never click on links within those emails because it is most likely a phishing attack.

4. Do not provide personal information to anyone calling you claiming to be from the IRS; the IRS already has your information and it's likely to be an identity thief calling you.

5. Check your credit report with one of the three credit bureaus for free every four months at http://www.annualcreditreport.com to make sure your identity hasn't already been stolen.

6. Install the latest updates to your operating system so known Windows or Mac vulnerabilities can't be exploited by hackers.

7. Don't save your password in your Web browser when accessing banks and other institutions that keep your personal information because it could be leaked if you ever get a virus, Trojan or are hacked.

8. If you provided your bank account and routing information to the IRS for payment or refunds, check your bank accounts to ensure the proper transfer occurred.

9. Visit your bank account online and set up alerts on your accounts to monitor when high amounts of cash are withdrawn.

10. Make sure you do not receive incorrect payment liability or refund information; a thief could have filed a tax return on your behalf fraudulently. If you suspect tax preparation fraud, call the State Tax Department toll-free at 1-888-675-9437.

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