Cybercriminals are constantly evolving and the IRS is asking taxpayers to better protect personal and financial data online and at home by considering these important steps to protect yourself from identity thieves:
Keep Your Computer Secure
- Use security software and make sure it updates automatically, including Firewall, virus/malware protection, and file encryption for sensitive data
- Treat your personal information like cash, don’t leave it lying around
- Check out companies to find out who you’re really dealing with
- Give personal information only over encrypted websites – look for “https” addresses
- Use strong passwords and protect them
- Back up your files
Avoid Phishing and Malware
- Avoid phishing emails, texts or calls that appear to be from the IRS and companies you know and trust, go directly to their websites instead
- Don’t open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is
- Download and install software only from websites you know and trust
- Use a pop-up blocker
- Talk to your family about safe computing
Protect Personal Information
Don’t routinely carry your or any dependents’ Social Security card or documents with SSN. Do not overshare personal information on social media. Information about past addresses, a new car, new home and your children can help identity thieves pose as you. Keep old tax returns and tax records under lock and key or encrypted if electronic. Shred tax documents before trashing.
Avoid IRS Impersonators. The IRS will not call you with threats of jail or lawsuits. The IRS will not send you an unsolicited email suggesting you have a refund or that you need to update your account. The IRS will not request any sensitive information online. These are all scams, and they are persistent. Don’t fall for them. Forward IRS-related scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report IRS-impersonation telephone calls at www.tigta.gov.
- Check your credit report annually; check your bank and credit card statements often;
- Review your Social Security Administration records annually. Sign up for My Social Security at www.ssa.gov.
- If you are an identity theft victim whose tax account is affected, review www.irs.gov/identitytheft for details.