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5 Tips to Know Before Filing Your Taxes

Mike Ferris
5 Tips to Know Before Filing Your Taxes

Tax fraud takes many forms, such as W2 phishing hacks, identity theft through access to your social security number, or other information breaches. Last year, we blogged about the 3 tips to know before filing taxes. With the tax season well underway, let's revisit the tips and explore additional guidelines.

Here are 5 tips to make sure that you are taking proper precautions:

1. File your taxes as soon as possible

This is the first step the IRS recommends towards securing your tax returns. Not only does this aid in getting a return sooner, but it also prevents malicious actors from attempting to steal your information as you file your returns. Although this does not solve the problem of the potential hacker having access to your information, it is one step toward making sure that you are protecting your returns.

2. Filing online

Be sure to use a secure network or a virtual private network (VPN), like Norton Secure VPN, if using a public Wi-Fi. In addition, use strong passwords, update software, and verify that you are using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption. This is an icon that looks like a padlock and should be in front of the website address in your browser. Make sure the URL address begins with https rather than http.

3. Monitor the IRS list of tax scams

This is particularly important if you deal with business revenue or business tax. The IRS lists this year's most common scams, which you can use to train and educate your employees or the finance department. IRS list of tax scams

4. Be on the lookout for IRS phone calls

In line with the above, scammers will make unsolicited calls and pretend to be calling from the IRS. The phone scammers pressure taxpayers into giving sensitive information, sometimes by threatening arrest or fines if "the account" is not settled. Do not provide any information over the phone. Report calls of this nature to the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration, using their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting website or call 800.366.4484.

5. Take action if your returns are breached

If you find out that your tax returns have been breached, perhaps by trying to file only to find out your W2s have already been filed, immediately contact the IRS. Unfortunately, there is not a quick fix. The only way to eventually get your return, and to make authorities aware that you are a victim of identity theft, is to follow the steps on this page.

Although the IRS continues to increase its safeguards to minimize the number of fraudulent tax returns, it is really up to the individual. Maintaining an awareness of the current trends is an important step to stay ahead of the hacks.

These basic precautions are important during tax season and can be followed year-round.

For more information on W2 phishing scams, click here.

Stay aware and be cautious and your data will be safer.