5 Top Tips For E-Filing Your Taxes
Every tax season individuals and businesses alike are required to file their taxes electronically.
While there are some risks associated with e-filing, there are benefits as well when completed correctly. E-filing can save you time, money, and reduce the number of errors that used to accompany traditional paper filing methods. You may even be able to get your refund sooner. The risks associated with e-filing are easily avoidable and should be carefully considered this tax season. Here are 5 tips for e-filing your taxes safely.
- It’s important to know that tax scams and fraud can affect anyone! Every year people are shocked to find that their taxes have already been filed by someone else under their name in order to receive their tax return. Be aware of phishing emails that claim to be sent from an IRS representative or a tax service informing you that your account has been locked and needs your login information. These emails usually carry a malicious download or dangerous link that infects your computer with malware or spyware. The most important thing to know is that the IRS will never contact you via email. They will also never show up unannounced at your doorstep. If a real claim is being filed against you, you will receive a warning letter in the mail first. If you happen to receive an email from a tax service that appears to be fraudulent, it is wise to call and confirm their inquiry.
- Having trusted antivirus software installed on all your devices will give you the best protection while filing your taxes. It will ensure that no dangerous spyware is able to record your information during the process. Sometimes, scammers will obtain various pieces of information that they need from different devices of yours. Because of this, it is smart to protect all of them with the appropriate software.
- Make sure you are using a secured wireless network when accessing important information of any kind. Opening any tax-related information on an unsecured network, like those found in public places, may be putting your information at risk of being compromised. Make sure you are only divulging personal information to encrypted sites. These sites will display “https” in the URL, not just “http”. If a financial transaction is being made on the site, there will also be a padlock icon at the beginning of the URL that will verify it is protected. Both of these are symbols that guarantee the site will be securing your information from any third party looking to intercept it. You should also verify the spelling of the website. For example, a popular tax service is TurboTax.com, whereas a hacker may set up a site seemingly similar but the URL will be TurboTaxx.com. You may be surprised that this simple switch could be enough to trick an unsuspecting tax filer.
- A common mistake made by many is ignoring software updates as they pop up. It’s important to stay up to date with the latest version of your operating system and applications. This keeps you best protected from potential threats as many updates are made after a security breach has been detected. Also, periodically updating your login credentials is a great way to keep scammers away. This is just as important as making sure that your passwords are different from account to account at the initial stages of creating the account. You want to make sure that they are strong, including letters, numbers and special characters.
- After filing your taxes on a specific device, back up all tax-related documents to an external hard drive and delete the information from this device. This will act as another added layer of protection in case that device should become compromised in the future. This is always a good practice for all of your internet-connected devices that carry important information.
These are some of the ways you can help steer clear of identity theft through tax fraud prevention. Unfortunately, identity theft isn’t always avoidable, but identity theft protection can help you recover from damages. Tax fraud can drastically affect the financial wellbeing that you have worked so hard to preserve. For those interested in building upon their financial health, it’s important to note that this can go beyond just your credit score and investments. It may be time to consider investing in your cybersecurity this tax season.