A timely reminder from the Department of Homeland Security. I highlighted some information you need to be aware. Check it out.
Incidents of identity theft and online fraud are on the rise this time of year as millions of Americans file their taxes online. Sophisticated cybercriminals are actively looking to steal your identity to fraudulently claim your tax refund, making it critical to stay extra vigilant in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, it is easier than you might think for criminals to be successful in claiming tax returns fraudulently – in most cases all they need is your name, social security number, and date of birth. During tax season, and year-round, consumers should be very cautious about sharing personal information online. Consumers should not trust any text messages, emails, or phone calls from anyone claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and asking to share personal information. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign encourages you take the following measures to protect yourself against online tax fraud:
- Don’t give out your personal information, unless it is to an established, trusted entity.
- Look out for phony messages or websites claiming to be from the IRS or tax preparation services. These websites can look quite legitimate so do your due diligence in spotting a fake. Never click on any URL links from your email, you need to visit the official website of IRS e.g. https://www.irs.gov.
- Beware of promises offering “free money” from inflated refunds. Remember, there is no “free money” ever.
- Back up your data and store your electronic tax files securely.
- Only share personal information over a secured network. Meaning the website should have SSL to encrypt your session from your workstation to the website. This is the padlock icon on the left side of the URL address.
The IRS offers tips for filing taxes online; visit www.IRS.gov/Filing and the IRS Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft at www.irs.gov/uac/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft to learn more. To report suspicious online or email phishing scams, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To report phishing scams by phone, call 1-800-366-4484. If you have been a victim of identity theft in general, report such incidents to the Federal Trade Commission at www.IdentityTheft.gov.
Be safe while surfing the Internet. I hope you have a great refund this year 🙂
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