Tax Time and Tech Crime: 3 Ways to Stay Safe Online This Season!


  • The IRS reported a rise in “new client” scams targeting tax professionals as the 2024 tax filing season approaches. Scammers impersonated potential clients via email to gain access to sensitive data. (IRS)
  • SC Media reported a 130% increase in W-2 fraud attempts between December 2023 and January 2024. Hackers used social engineering techniques like email spoofing to trick finance or HR personnel into sending W-2 forms containing sensitive employee information. (SC Media)
  • Scammers have been known to leverage the topic of taxes to create a sense of urgency and exploit anxieties. (Help Net Security)

As tax season approaches, cybercriminals gear up to exploit unsuspecting individuals looking to file their taxes online. With the rise of digital tax filing methods, it’s more important than ever to prioritize cybersecurity to safeguard your sensitive financial information. Here are three crucial ways to stay safe online during tax season:

1. Use Secure and Verified Websites:

When filing your taxes online, it’s paramount to ensure you’re using legitimate and secure websites. Stick to well-known tax preparation services such as TurboTax, H&R Block, or the official IRS website. Avoid clicking on links from unsolicited emails or unfamiliar websites, as they could lead you to phishing sites designed to steal your personal information.

Look for the padlock symbol and “https://” in the website’s URL, indicating a secure connection. Additionally, verify the website’s legitimacy by checking for official seals or certifications from recognized authorities. These measures can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to fraudulent websites or phishing scams.

2. Strengthen Your Passwords and Enable Two-Factor Authentication:

Your passwords serve as the first line of defense against unauthorized access to your online accounts, including those related to tax filing. Strengthen your passwords by using a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, and avoid using easily guessable information such as your birthdate or pet’s name.

Furthermore, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring not only your password but also a second form of verification, such as a text message code or biometric scan. This additional step can thwart cybercriminals even if they manage to obtain your login credentials.

Regularly update your passwords and avoid reusing them across multiple accounts. Consider using a reputable password manager to securely store and generate complex passwords for all your online accounts.

3. Be Wary of Phishing Attempts and Social Engineering Tactics:

Cybercriminals often resort to phishing emails and social engineering tactics to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information. During tax season, remain vigilant and skeptical of unsolicited emails, especially those purportedly from tax authorities, financial institutions, or tax preparation services.

Watch out for common red flags such as spelling and grammatical errors, urgent requests for personal information, and unexpected attachments or links. Remember that legitimate organizations will never ask you to provide sensitive information via email or request immediate action without prior notice.

If you receive a suspicious email, refrain from clicking on any links or downloading attachments. Instead, independently verify the sender’s identity by contacting the organization directly through a trusted source, such as their official website or customer service hotline.

Remember, the IRS will almost never initiate contact via email or phone call to request personal information. Be wary of emails or calls that pressure you to click on links or download attachments. Don’t be afraid to hang up and call the IRS directly using a verified phone number to confirm the legitimacy of any communication.

At the end of the day, safeguarding your financial information during tax season requires proactive measures and heightened awareness of potential threats. By using secure websites, strengthening your passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and staying vigilant against phishing attempts, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks and protect your sensitive data from unauthorized access.

Don’t hesitate to consult with a trusted tax professional if you have any concerns about the legitimacy of a communication or website.

For additional resources and tips, you can visit the IRS website or the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s Tax Season Security Tips page.

Have any questions regarding saying safe online during tax season? Contact us and we will be delighted to assist you with your security needs! Make sure to subscribe to our mailing list to stay up-to-date with our latest security tips and tricks.

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