Tax Day is just a little over two weeks away. While most people don’t need (or want) another reminder of this, we thought it may be a good opportunity to take a look at some of the security issues involved with tax season. Scammers are constantly looking for ways to steal your customers’ personal information. Below are a few things they should be particularly careful about when preparing taxes this season.
Social Security Numbers and Identity Theft: We are sure that nobody has forgotten the massive Equifax data breach in late 2017. If you need a reminder here is our blog post on it. The information stolen may have included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and more. Here’s the scary part: Thieves can use this information to file a return in the victims name and claim a refund. Making sure to file taxes early can help to mitigate this. The IRS isn’t going to give out a refund to a scammer who has used the information of someone who has already filed their taxes. Customers can also make sure to use security software with strong firewall and anti-virus protection to help protect private information on their machines.
Backup of Tax Documents: The IRS has a number of general guidelines for keeping tax files backed up. While keeping physical copies of taxes for a period of time is probably a good idea, it’s also important to keep digital records. Accidents happen, and customers could lose physical copies in an instant. It’s recommended that they keep PDF files of their tax returns backed up in a cloud storage solution. Backing up proprietary file types is ok too, but these may not be viewable in every situation, unlike a PDF.
Password Protection: It is important to use a reputable tax company or service and if the company has an online solution, that’s great, but it’s critical that your customers use strong passwords. They should not use passwords that they have used on other websites, as that makes it easier for hackers to get their information across multiple sites. Using a password manager that can generate strong passwords and securely store them is a great tool to help them with this.
We hope these tips can help your customers get through another tax season with no issues. Every step you and your customers take to secure their digital lives makes it harder for scammers to harm them.