With Tax season in full swing, the dark side of the Internet is ready to jump into action with scams and phishing attacks aimed at taking your money and personal information. We recommend using a well-known tax preparation tool, such as one of those mentioned in our Tax Software Showdown, but you should also exercise caution when dealing with anything tax related while you’re online.
Webroot, an internet security and antivirus company, shares the following tips for staying safe this tax season.
- Update Security Software: Even if they are not going to file online, users preparing taxes on computers connected to the Internet should be sure they are running updated versions of a proven best of breed anti-spyware and antivirus software and should scan their entire system at least once a week, but definitely before preparing and/or filing
- Visit the Right Website: For Federal electronic filings and document lookups, make sure to NOT use search engines and go directly linked to https://www.irs.gov/
- Don’t Email Tax Info: Do not respond to email inquiries regarding your taxes with sensitive information.
- State Taxes are a Target too: If you plan to file your state taxes online be sure to only use links directly from your official state homepage. Links to the official websites for all 50 states are available direct from the federal government.
- Clean up your Computer: When finished filing taxes and using security passwords, users should also use privacy software for erasing important data from their systems.
We also recommend that users don’t work on their taxes on a public or unsecured WiFi hotspot, which could allow a nearby bad guy to grab your personal information.
When it comes to antivirus, we really like the free Security Essentials from Microsoft. If you need to clean up your computer you should clear your browsing history and passwords. This varies from browser to browser, but you’ll a guide on how to clear your browsing data in popular browsers from Indiana University.
Another thing to remember is that before you sell or donate your old computer you need to wipe the hard drive. We recommend iolo DriveScrubber for average users because it is simple and easy. Advanced users will be able to find free tools that can wipe their hard drive be looking online.
Image Via Don Hankins