Protect Your Identity This Tax Season

Identity theft is an important issue year-round, but tax season calls for heightened vigilance among those filing online. According to the United States Department of Justice, in 2013 “over 5 million tax returns were filed using stolen identities, claiming approximately $30 billion in refunds.”

We don’t want your identity to be one of those stolen for fraudulent tax returns, so we’re sharing useful tips from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that can help keep your identity safe this tax season.

  • January 25, 2016 - Tax Preparers: Perform a Deep Security Scan of Your Computer Drives
    • If you are responsible for preparing taxes for others, it is imperative that your computer is clean. If you are a filer, ask your tax preparer if he or she has performed a deep security scan recently. Learn more about precautions tax preparers are urged to take that will help prevent phishing, malware and viruses (to ultimately protect your sensitive tax information).
  • January 19, 2016 - IRS, States and Tax Industry Deploy New Safeguards for 2016
    • Hackers get smarter each year, but so do the IRS, the states and the tax industry as a whole. If you file your taxes yourself, you might notice some tightened security measures, such as stricter password requirements and new security questions. Read more about how the government is making filing your taxes more secure in 2016.
  • January 11, 2016 - Tips to Keep Your Tax Records Secure; Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
    • Keeping your old tax records is a good practice—stuffing them in a shoe box in the back of your closet might not be the best approach. The IRS provides tax record tips for storing physical documents, securing digital ones and even disposing of records you no longer need.
  • January 4, 2016 - Tips to Protect Your Personal Information While Online
    • When you shop online, do you look for an https at the beginning of the web address? Are your passwords long and your social media posts short on personal details? Learn more helpful tips from the IRS to help keep your information safe online, including what to do with your tax returns and financial reports.
  • December 28, 2015 - Tips for Using Credit Bureaus to Help Protect Your Financial Accounts
    • Placing a “fraud alert” on your credit account can help lessen the damage of identity theft. Learn more about the ways credit bureaus can help victims of identity theft, including how to contact the credit bureaus, what types of alerts exist and what other options are available to you if you fall victim to identity theft.
  • December 21, 2015 - Talk to Your Family about Security Online and at Home
    • Fraudsters are after all generations of Internet users, but they particularly target the old and the young, as these groups are more prone to oversharing on social media or giving in to fraudulent schemes. It might be time for “the conversation” about Internet security with the youngsters and a review of financial matters for aging family members. The IRS shares tips for keeping all generations safe from identity thieves.
  • December 14, 2015 - What You Need to Know to Protect Your Passwords
    • You probably use the same password for several accounts. Just think what will happen if a hacker gets a hold of that one universal password! Luckily, the IRS and tax software partners have increased their security measures this year, just in time for the 2016 tax season. Read more about how the IRS plans to keep tax filers safe from identity theft.
  • December 7, 2015 - Seven Steps for Making Identity Protection Part of Your Routine
    • Regularly monitoring your three credit reports, shredding documents that include personal information and reading your financial statements (from banks, credit cards, health insurance, etc.) are all ways to constantly protect your identity. Learn other tasks from the IRS that, when made part of your routine, can help keep your identity out of the hands of hackers.
  • November 30, 2015Don’t Take the Bait; Avoid Phishing and Malware to Protect Your Personal Data
    • Phishing is a serious threat to your personal identity because it works. The IRS reminds you that technology is not the best line of defense against these types of attacks—you are. Be wary of any emails asking you to provide sensitive information, and be extra cautious with attachments. Learn more ways to spot phishing attempts before they get you hooked.
  • November 23, 2015Seven Tips to Protect Your Computer Online
    • The IRS reminds you of the basic steps you should take to protect your information online. Avoiding identity thieves begins with updating security software, creating strong passwords and avoiding public Wi-Fi when transmitting sensitive information. Learn more online security tips at the IRS site.

New tips will be added each week during the tax season. Check back later at https://go.osu.edu/irs-tax-tips for more helpful suggestions.