Accountants aren’t the only ones putting in overtime during tax season. It’s also the busiest time of the year for cybercriminals and scam artists.
And, for good reason: almost every single American file income tax each year, making for a massive pool of potential targets. Even for cyber-savvy taxpayers, it’s important to remember to stay vigilant about protecting your critical personal information.
Whether you’ve already filed or among those racing against this year’s April 18 deadline, here are four easy tax season cybersecurity tips to remember:
1. If you file online, make sure the website is secure.
Websites with URLs beginning “https” have a secure connection and that its users’ information is encrypted. Do not enter any personal information into sites with “http” domains.
‘S’ means secure. It’s that easy.
2. Ignore the IRS’ e-mails
Yes, you read that correctly.
The IRS will never ask for your personal information—most notably your social security number and/or taxpayer PIN—through email. These e-mails look legitimate but are designed to trick users into clicking a link that directs them toward a lookalike site.
If there’s a problem with your tax return, you’ll be notified through a letter sent via the USPS.
3. Never click e-mail or text links
In a recent interview with TheStreet.com, Ray Kelly, a fellow at NTT Application Security, emphasized one of the most critical cybersecurity safeguards for taxpayers:
“One easy rule to remember: never click on links within an email or text message. “Even if it’s something you were expecting, it’s always much safer to visit the site directly.”
4. Don’t file using public wi-fi
These days, it’s far too easy of a task for cybercriminals to set-up public wifi networks that monitor users’ every keystroke. Sure, filing your taxes while sipping a beverage at your go-to coffee shop sounds nice, but beware—the wifi security is about as flimsy as the paper straw in your iced coffee.