Is it safe to file online? Should you go to a pro instead? These are just a few of the millions of questions you have during tax season. Speed, simplicity and savings are the three reasons that people choose online tax preparation software over going to a CPA.
But with TurboTax’s recent security concerns, it’s important that you are keeping your information safe while filing your return, and that you know what to do if you are compromised. Here is what you should keep in mind this tax season:
Big life changes mean more complex taxes. If you’ve started a business, got married, had a child, or any other major life event – you’re probably going to want to seek the help of a professional.
Use a secure wireless network. Make sure you are extremely diligent when filing your taxes. Don’t login to the public wireless connection at your local coffee shop. Instead, prepare your taxes at home on your password-protected connection.
Watch out for fake IRS representatives. The IRS will never contact you via email, text, or social media – only regular mail. Any other forms of contact are likely fraudulent and should be reported ASAP.
File early. The earlier that you file online, the better. If someone has stolen your information and is trying to file as well, red flags will fly once that second tax return is filed. If you’re the second person to file, it’s likely that the thieves are long gone with the tax refund in hand.
Shred copies of your tax return. If you no longer need your drafts or calculation sheets, shred them! Back up your tax information on a computer drive stored safely off of your computer in the event of an emergency or home theft.
If you’ve been compromised, freeze everything. Chances are, if your social security number has been used in a tax fraud incident, it’s going to be used in other fraudulent practices. Immediately notify your banks, credit card companies, credit reporting agencies, and local and federal authorities. Alerts will stop more accounts from being opened with your stolen social security number.