Tax season: How to help protect yourself against tax-related identity theft
You might expect filing your tax return to be a private affair — something between you, the IRS, and maybe your accountant or tax preparer. But that may not always be true if cybercriminals get involved and gain access to your personal information. And that can raise the risk of becoming a victim of tax-related identity theft.
Already, the IRS is warning taxpayers about a surge in new email phishing scams* tied to tax time. Taxpayers saw a 60 percent jump in bogus email schemes seeking to steal money or tax data in 2018, according to the IRS. And that accounts for just one of the cyberthreats you could face this tax season and beyond.
Think about it. During tax season your personal information may be emailed, shared and saved more than usual.
As a result, you may be vulnerable to cybercrime and identity theft. Criminals can access information on your devices and connections through malware or public Wi-Fi and use it to file a tax return in your name.
Norton™ 360 with LifeLock™ provides you with Cyber Safety for tax season and beyond. With comprehensive device protection from Norton, combined with LifeLock identity theft protection, plus a secure VPN for your connections, you get all-in-one protection for your devices, identity and online privacy all for $9.99/month (plus tax, terms apply).
How to help protect against tax-related identity theft this year
Chances are, your devices — including your laptop, tablet, and smartphone — play a role in preparing and filing your tax return.
But here’s the problem. Cybercriminals can access your personal information by compromising your connections and devices. That exposed information can be used to file a tax return in your name.
Here are three ways to help protect yourself from tax-related identity theft this tax season.
1. Protect your devices
Cybercriminals want to steal your personal information on your devices to commit crimes. That might include filing a tax return in your name or taking over your existing financial accounts.
That’s why it’s smart to use comprehensive device security from a trusted brand. When you install your security software, remember to set it to update automatically so you’ll have the latest versions to patch security flaws and keep hackers out. Keep in mind, you need more than just device security software to protect against cyberthreats. You need protection for your identity and connections, too.
One more tax season reminder: Avoid “free” security scans or pop-up advertisements for security software. Clicking on a link may download malware or viruses. Not only that, sometimes free software comes with fine print: The maker could sell your information to third parties thereby compromising your privacy.
2. Help guard against tax-related identity theft
Tax season can be prime time for identity theft. Cybercriminals may target your personal information* to use to file a tax return in your name and pocket a refund. If that happens, recovering from the crime will likely require time and effort.
If you have an identity theft protection service, it can alert† you to possible fraudulent activity using your personally identifiable information. Although it cannot alert you to the filing of a tax return, it may be able to help you recover if a false return is filed in your name.
No one can prevent identity theft, but an identity theft protection service like LifeLock with Norton can help protect against it and help with restoration. Plus, LifeLock’s Million Dollar Protection™ Package††† helps protect you with reimbursement for stolen funds and coverage for personal expenses, and coverage for lawyers and experts, if needed, to help resolve your case.
3. Keep your connections private
You might be tempted to sort out tax details while you’re in a public place like a café, airport, or hotel. If you’re on an unprotected public Wi-Fi network, don’t do it.
Criminals can use your public Wi-Fi connections in order to gain access to your personal information. It only takes your Social Security number and birthdate for a tax return to be filed or a refund collected in your name.
The solution? A VPN — short for virtual private network — creates secure and encrypted connections, while protecting your online privacy and anonymity when you’re on public Wi-Fi.
How to help stay safe in tax season and beyond
You want to stay safe during tax season, but the need for Cyber Safety doesn’t stop there.
That’s why it’s a good idea to consider Norton™ 360 with LifeLock™ to help protect your devices, identity, and online privacy year-round.
Tax seasons come and go, but Cyber Safety season never ends.
No one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime.
† We do not monitor all transactions at all businesses.
*Protection for phishing and online scams applies only to devices on which Norton Security is installed. Reimbursement does not apply to identity theft loss resulting directly or indirectly from phishing or scams.
†††Reimbursement and Expense Compensation, each with limits of up to $1 million for Ultimate Plus, up to $100,000 for Advantage and up to $25,000 for Select, when purchased in Norton 360 with LifeLock plans. And up to $1 million for coverage for lawyers and experts if needed, for all plans. Benefits under the Master Policy are issued and covered by United Specialty Insurance Company (State National Insurance Company, Inc. for NY State members). Policy terms, conditions and exclusions at: LifeLock.com/legal.
Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Norton LifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.
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