Tips to Avoid Identity Theft and Fraud this Tax Season
In 2006, Maxim Maltsev diverted 65 federal income tax refunds and stole over $100,000 by fooling unsuspecting victims into using free tax filing services unaffiliated with the IRS. Maltsev processed the tax returns, but changed the bank account information to divert refunds to himself.
He was caught two years later and the money was reclaimed, but scams like this become more common as the number of online tax filers grow. The IRS estimated over 140 million tax filers filed electronically in 2009, up from 90 million in 2008. They predict the number of e-filers will continue to grow, along with the number of scams created.
In order to protect yourself, make sure you:
- Run your anti-virus scans regularly
- Perform a full system scan before submitting taxes online
- Adjust Internet firewall settings – This will keep out unwanted connections
- Avoid P2P file sharing networks – Share files may contain viruses, malware or Trojan horses
- Keep your computer and software updated with the latest releases – To stay up to date on security patches and software bugs
The best advice is if in doubt, call an expert. The security hole may not live on the web, but in your computer. Not all malware and spyware programs are detectable by anti-virus software and even the slightest exposure can leave you vulnerable to cyber crooks. So if you're the slightest bit worried, call Support.com before you submit your taxes and we'll make sure your computer is completely safe and secure.