Tax Season Cybersecurity: 5 Tips for Protecting Yourself and Avoid Scams
With tax season coming up and the cost of living soaring, scams are more abundant than ever. Scammers will do anything to get a quick buck, and that usually means targeting unsuspecting individuals who are just trying to live their lives. To help you protect your data and your tax refund, we’ve put together the following list of tips for avoiding tax season scams.
Only Ever Use Reputable Sites
Completing an online tax return is usually perfectly safe and can be an incredibly convenient option for those who don’t have complicated deductions or multiple income streams. If you’re not careful with your provider, however, it can be an easy way to get scammed.
It’s essential to use a reputable site when completing your tax return online. Websites that promise massive refunds or feature lots of pop-ups or ads should be avoided. You must also check whether there’s a lock symbol next to the address bar.
Install Quality Virus Protection
Scammers have endless methods for getting malicious code onto your computer. Once they’ve gotten in, they can cause significant damage and be difficult to get rid of. For this reason, it’s crucial to install quality virus protection on all devices that access the internet. If you don’t want to pay for virus protection, there are plenty of free and open-source options available. Just be sure that you’re choosing a reputable provider.
Run a VPN for Extra Security
If you’re particularly security conscious, you may wish to add a VPN to your cybersecurity arsenal. If you use one when filing your tax return, it’s best to select a location within your home country. This will avoid complications that may arise if your IP appears to be outside the country when you’re lodging your return.
Never Click Suspicious Links
Phishing is a common tactic used by scammers, and in many cases, once you’ve clicked the link, it’s already too late. Even if you haven’t entered any personal information, malicious code may have installed itself on your device. Because of this, it is important to only ever click links from sources that are both verified and trustworthy.
Scammers are getting better and better at making their messages look legitimate, so carefully check the sender’s information. If in doubt, visit the real company’s official website or call their customer service line.
Don’t Give Out Private Information Over the Phone
Another common tactic used by scammers is to call you up and pretend to be a service provider or authority. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it becomes more frequent around tax time. You might get a call from someone claiming to be from the tax office. They could even pretend to be a representative of the company you did your taxes with.
The unfortunate truth is that you have to be on guard every time you answer the phone. Never give out personal details to someone who has called you, no matter how legitimate they may seem. Instead, call the business back via their standard contact number and ask to speak with someone about whatever issue was raised. Waiting on hold may be annoying, but sharing your personal data with the wrong person can be downright dangerous.
Scams become more prevalent any time there’s extra money finding its way into people’s pockets. So tax season can be a particularly dangerous time for those who don’t have adequate cybersecurity measures in place. The good news is that as long as you follow the tips in this article and exercise caution at all times, you should be fairly safe.