‘Tis the season to think about how you can give to family, friends, and charities, but you also have to think about how to safeguard your financial information from those who may not be as charitable. The IRS, TurboTax, and Security Summit partners have launched the beginning of National Tax Security Awareness Week to help you ensure your information is secure.
As part of the Security Summit effort, the IRS, tax community, and state tax agencies are sharing a variety of information throughout the week to educate taxpayers on steps they should take to protect themselves from identity theft, tax scams, refund fraud, and other valuable financial data.
The week, which runs Dec. 2-6, features a series of consumer tips that will be released daily and featured on the Taxes. Security. Together. web page. This includes basic information safeguards everyone should be aware of. With more people online this year, there is a focus on security for those sharing personal and financial information via a computer or a mobile phone. Let’s face it, Cyber Monday is here to stay and most of us want to find those deals! Let’s just make sure your deal is in the clear.
Here are a few tips to help ensure you have a happy, secure holiday and New Year:
- Shop at sites where the web addresses begin with “https.” The “s” is for secure communications over the computer network. This is an added layer of protection when sharing credit card information for a purchase. Keep in mind that scam sites also can use “https,” so people should ensure they are shopping at a legitimate retailer’s website.
- At home, secure your home wifi with a password. As homes become more connected to the web, secured systems become more important, from wireless printers, wireless door locks to wireless thermometers. These can be access points for identity thieves.
- 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 like 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.
- Use two-factor authentication whenever possible. Many email providers and social media sites offer this feature. It helps prevent thieves from easily hacking accounts.
- 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. 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.
You can also check out security recommendations for your mobile phone through the Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker. Since phones are used for everything from shopping to banking, remember to make sure your phones and tablets are just as secure as computers.
See more tips throughout National Tax Security Awareness Week on how to make sure you know the best ways to secure your important information at IRS.gov/SecuritySummit and learn more about how TurboTax works hard to help protect your identity on our TurboTax Security page.