How to Defend Against Identity Theft This Tax Season

As if tax time didn’t create enough stress in your environment along come the cybercriminals hacking your tax returns.

Did you know that during the first nine months of 2012 there was a 62 percent increase in the number of identity theft cases detected by the IRS.

Cybercriminals are prowling the web for ways to access people’s personal information so they can cash in on their identity. The hackers have various ways of stealing taxpayers identity, including the use of social media and malicious websites to lure and harm taxpayers.

One reason cyberattacks increase around tax season is because the same cybercriminals are also taxpayers, said Dmitry Bestuzhev, head of Latin American global research and analysis at the computer security company Kaspersky Lab.

“They know when tax season is and how the taxes are paid. They understand the worries and attitudes of the taxpayers in terms of the tax submissions and so on. So in turn, they just take advantage of the situation,” Bestuzhev said. “Having background knowledge that people are expecting to get messages from IRS or other agencies, it makes it much easier to pitch the victims than in any other season.

However, there are precautions taxpayers can take to prevent their financial or personal information from being stolen.

Here are nine tips from Kaspersky Lab for keeping your data safe this tax season.

  • Check Electronic Filing Service
  • Check Social Media Accounts
  • Beware of Facebook Scam Messages
  • Boost Your Overall Cybersecurity
  • Don’t Email the IRS
  • Don’t Download Tax Related Documents
  • Watch Your Search
  • Don’t Save Tax Docs on Hard Drive
  • Choose Your Computer Carefully

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