10 Security Tips For Preventing Identity Theft

The continued popularity of electronic tax filing has made this annual burden incredibly simple for many taxpayers. As a result, some individuals mistakenly equate ease-of-use with safety. Identity Finder presents 3 big myths that risk your identity during tax season, as well as important security tips to prevent identity theft.

Myth No. 1: Supporting documents such as PDFs used in the creation of your tax returns are safe on your computer.

Truth: By default PDFs are not secured and hackers may attempt to access your computer in various ways via viruses, Trojans and botnets.

  • Password-protect all tax returns that you print to PDF from your tax software so Social Security Numbers are secure. Use a digital shredder to permanently delete unsecured documents on your computer that contain personal information used to prepare your tax return.
  • Configure all peer-to-peer file sharing programs to disable the sharing of your personal folders so identity thieves can't download your tax return.
  • Install the latest updates to your operating system to prevent known Windows or Mac vulnerabilities from being exploited by hackers.
  • Don't save your password in your web browser when accessing payroll services, employers, banks and other institutions that keep your personal information.

Myth No. 2: It's safe to electronically transmit confidential data to an accountant, employer, or the IRS.

Truth: Your personal information is at great risk when it is en route from one location to another. Hackers and identity thieves have the ability to eavesdrop or spy on it when it is unprotected.

  • Encrypt supporting tax documents you plan to email to your accountant to prevent anyone from snooping on your network and gaining access to your financial information.
  • Create strong passwords when registering to download your IRS W2 forms, 1099s, and other personal tax documents from your employer so they are not easily guessed by strangers.

Myth No. 3: Paper copies of your tax documentation are always safe since they are not accessible to electronic hackers.

Truth: Identity thieves are incredibly creative and will attempt to access your confidential information for their own personal gain however and wherever possible, especially when you least expect it.

  • When you postal mail your tax return to the IRS, send it from a secured location, like the post office or an official USPS collection box, and do not let it sit in the box overnight as it could be stolen. For added security use certified mail.
  • If making photocopies of your financial documents, make sure the photocopier does not store images of them in memory.
  • Using a traditional paper shredder, destroy the printed documents used during tax preparation that you no longer need.

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