When tax season comes around, there is already a great deal of stress on people’s minds, especially when they receive a communication of any form from the Internal Revenue Service, but the internet – while adding a great deal of convenience – has opened up a whole new world or risk as online criminals try to hook victims with phishing tactics at this time of year.
These criminals prey on their victims by using the fear that is high at this time of year to obtain information that these individuals would not otherwise share.
In order to protect yourself from identity theft of this nature, keep the following tips in mind:
• Always assume that any communication through email, social media, or another electronic source that claims to be from the IRS is actually fraudulent. The only way that the IRS will ever try to reach you is via snail mail.
• If you do receive a suspicious communication, such as an email from the IRS, take part in the effort to have the source discovered and shut down by forwarding it to the IRS email: [email protected]
• As tempting as they may seem, do not use offers made to help you to make a refund filing. The only person who should ever receive your personal financial information is a professional from a reputable company who will be able to meet with you in person, not exclusively online.
• Always use the official URL of the website for an electronic tax filing by typing it directly into the address bar of your browser, or use the company name in a search engine and select only the official website. Never follow a link from an email, social media post, or an ad on a webpage. Otherwise, there is no way to tell if you are using a legitimate website.
• Purchase identity theft insurance. Even if you have taken every reasonable precaution, some sneaky criminals can still sometimes obtain information that they can use without your authorization . Identity theft insurance coverage helps to protect you from the financial and time consumption impact of this unfortunate circumstance.