This week the IRS is hosting the second annual National Tax Security Awareness Week all across the country to encourage taxpayers to take steps to protect their identity. In partnership with the IRS, we are sharing some important tips to help you safeguard your identity.
As you grew up, you were taught how to play safely and be aware of your surroundings. As adults, the same concept can also apply to a variety of things, including one of the most important parts of your life: personal finances.
It is likely that the majority of your finances live online, which means there is an increased amount of personal information available to the public. With this in mind, it is now more important than ever to make sure you’re completely secure.
Here are six tips to help strengthen your security network and build protection against identity theft.
1. Make Strong, Unique Passwords and Keep them Updated. Some websites require you to meet a certain number of non-alphabetical characters and letters, which solidifies a secure password and makes it more difficult for someone to hack into your account. When you create a password, it’s also important to avoid common or easy-to-guess passwords – for example, try to stay away from birth dates or a mother’s maiden name. It is also important to change your password every few months and create a unique password for each online account.
2. Be Cognizant of What You Share. It can be easy to accidentally share too much personal information on your Facebook or other social media page, especially if you see your friends also doing so. However, you should always be mindful of what you’re posting on social media and never share your address, phone numbers, or Social Security Numbers, and instead, just keep it to funny pictures of your dog!
3. Secure Sensitive Personal and Financial Documents. Storing personal information on your computer can be quick and easy, and in fact, most people keep their important information online. However, if you decide to store everything online, you’ll need to protect your computer with security and anti-virus software to help protect your information. If you’re old school and keep most of your documents in a file cabinet, make sure you shred them if you decide to dispose of them and store documents you keep in a safe location. Also, avoid carrying your social security card with you in your wallet or purse, as your social security number could be accessed if you were to lose the card or have it stolen.
4. Protect Your Mobile Device. With all the helpful tools and features a mobile device can offer, you can download personal finance apps that track your finances… and can even do your taxes from your phone! Although these apps are extremely helpful, always double-check they are from a reputable company, and be sure to check the ratings and comments to be aware of what the app does, and what information it may access on your mobile device. You should also secure your device with a strong password and use your phone’s auto-lock feature to protect personal information.
5. Frequently Check Your Credit Report. Do you pay off your credit card on time each month and want to know if you’ve boosted your credit score? You’re entitled to one free credit report each year, and you should take advantage of the free report in order to catch any errors. If any information has been compromised, set up a fraud alert to put a security freeze on your files and information.
6. Don’t Fall for Phishing Scams. Sometimes scam emails can sneak through the junk folder in your email, and seem believable asking for money or for you to confirm confidential information. But don’t be fooled, these scams usually come from a third party claiming to be a trustworthy entity. It’s important to remember that trustworthy companies like your bank would not ask you to provide personal or sensitive information without first signing into your account behind a secure firewall. Do not open emails claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS does not request information via email, and be sure to forward emails claiming to be the IRS to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There may be some extra steps when trying to protect your identity, but these precautions and steps can help you protect your personal information.
Learn more about how TurboTax works hard to help protect your identity on our TurboTax Security page.