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Tips to Keep Your Data Secure During Tax Season

tax season

Tax season is here.  While you are preparing to file your returns this year, keep in mind that cyber-criminals will be out in full force, trolling the internet for business and personal data alike.

Phishing scams, malware attacks, and identity theft—2016 saw a huge jump in cyber-attacks. And as for 2017, expect more of the same. This year is already shaping up to be another doozy, with new phishing schemes popping up—and more on the way. Here is some handy advice to help you stay cyber safe this tax season.

Minimize your online risk this tax season 

Many folks are filing their taxes online. It’s fast, convenient, and cost-effective. That said, it’s also the perfect opportunity for cyber-criminals to get their hands on your personal information. To minimize your online risk and avoid falling victim to cyber-attacks, a little homework can go a long way. Research the reliability of the types of tax software out there. If you are using an online tax service provider, check to see if they have effective online safety options in place like security questions, email verifications, and lock-out features.

Once you’ve got filing out of the way, make sure to store your tax returns in a secure location. And by secure, we’re not talking about downloading them to your laptop—you don’t want to leave crucial data out in the open. Instead, store your returns in the cloud or on a removable storage device like a USB.

When transmitting sensitive data online, always use a secure connection—always. Whether you are shopping or filing taxes, use password-protected Wi-Fi when working from home. And whatever you do, don’t use public Wi-Fi to file your taxes. Cyber-criminals are lurking everywhere, drooling at the chance to dive into your online accounts.

Phishing scams

Phishing scams are extremely common during tax season. Hackers use fraudulent emails to trick you into disclosing sensitive data. When responding to emails, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution. Be wary about opening attachments and downloading files from emails you are not expecting to receive. If you think the email is suspicious, contact the company by phone or visit their website to verify the source.

Basic online security practices

Good online security practices are key in protecting your data from cyber-crime. Always use passwords that are long and complex, as well as set up two factor authentication. Run a security scan before entering in any sensitive data to ensure there’s no malware infections on your computers or laptops. You should also ensure your operating systems and software are all up-to-date.

When it comes to keeping your data safe, staying vigilant is a must. Following these practical tips will not only help keep cyber-criminals at bay, but also give you peace of mind during tax season.

For a cyber-safe tax season, contact us today!