Awareness : Newsletter Articles

It’s Tax Season: Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Have you filed your taxes yet? Tax season is upon us, and you aren’t the only one preparing paperwork; criminals go into overdrive ready to steal your information. Criminals know how profitable it can be for them to file fake tax returns, and hence are constantly inventing new schemes to maliciously obtain your personal information. Protecting yourself from tax fraud and identity theft takes time and vigilance. Always ensure that you keep your sensitive information protected at all times. 

Awareness and preparation is key! Here are some ways you can do to protect yourself this tax season:

  • File your taxes early in the season to safeguard against tax fraud. 
  • Be aware of phishing email scams (fraudulent emails pretending to be from reputable companies with the sole purpose of stealing your information).
  • Avoid answering unknown or blocked calls. Telephone scams and robocalls are on the rise and many claim to be reputable companies or even the IRS.
  • Never give your Social Security number or other sensitive personal information via phone or email to unsolicited callers/senders.
  • Remember: The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
  • Protect and clean your computer before filing your taxes; use trusted and licensed antivirus programs to detect and remove security threats on your computer.
  • Clear your web browser (i.e., Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari) of both caches and cookies before filing your tax return.
  • Never file your taxes or bank online while using a public Wi-Fi connection (coffee shop or fast-food restaurant).
  • Always make sure to use a secure encrypted connection or VPN when working with or sending sensitive data.
  • Update any outdated software on your desktop, laptop, mobile device, and/or tablet.
  • Make sure your passwords are strong and secure. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols when creating your passwords.
  • Avoid interacting with pop-up ads while filing your taxes online; turn on your pop-up blocker on your browser.
  • Use current year tax software to ensure that you are not only abiding by current laws and deadlines but that you have the most recent security support.
  • Shred documents that contain personal information.
  • Reduce the number of times you give out your sensitive data and question why someone needs it and what they will use it for.
  • Always store your information in a secure location.

If you suspect you have fallen victim to tax fraud please contact the IRS immediately in order for the agency to take action.  For more information or if you believe you are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information please visit the IRS website . For questions or more information on safeguarding your information, contact the Office of Privacy & Data Security at 305-243-5000 or email privacy@med.miami.edu.