How to File Taxes Online Safely – Best Practices to File Taxes Online
File taxes online safely. The annual income tax deadline is almost here, and people are usually stressed to get their taxes filed online before the April 15th deadline. You can file Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes online from the comfort of your own home, but it’s important that you do it safely and securely to protect your private data and the personal information of your family.
Every year the Internal Revenue Service publishes a list of the top tax scams called The Dirty Dozen. Common tax scams include fraudulent deductions, unlicensed income tax preparers, and a variety of phone tax scams. If you follow a few cyber security best practices, you can protect your private, sensitive data.
Is it Safe to eFile Taxes?
Yes, it is safe to eFile taxes. It’s perfectly safe and even sometimes a more secure option to eFile your income taxes. When you have someone prepare your taxes in an office, your paperwork and personal data may be laying around or be accessible to other people who work in that same office. Although there are many reputable tax preparers who take great measures to protect your information, e-filing your taxes may be one of the most secure ways to file your taxes online safely.
Best Practices to File Taxes Online
Here are a few safety measures and cyber security tips to help protect your income tax data online when filing your tax return online.
1. Use security software
Download and use internet security software on all your devices. Every year filing taxes online is an opportunity for hackers to scam people using scam phone calls, spoof websites, phishing emailss and fraudulent apps. Security software helps protect you and your devices from hackers or trying to steal your information and money Use quality security software that will alert you in quarantine phishing emails, malicious attachments you can help protect your phone and your computer from hackers.
Security software also includes malware protection and warns you if you are on a website that is known to be sketchy and fraudulent we’re in control of hackers you need to use malware protection what is kept up-to-date although there are many free malware apps out there sometimes they can be harmful apps themselves disguised as security apps.
Security software will protect your computer from ransomware malware and another form of malicious computer code called info stealer. Any of these malwares can result in identity theft which can take years to fix and cost you money. Protect yourself aginst identity theft.
2. Beware of Free Apps
Although there are free security apps available, often they cannot offer the best protection you can possibly get. Free security apps may not be updated with the latest information on malware and phishing attacks the hackers are deploying. Hackers constantly fine tune their cyberattack tactics. They deploy malicious computer code, spoof websites, and phishing emails to trick victims into clicking links and opening email attachments that can steal all of their private tax data.
Hackers are out to steal your personal information and money. Protect your data, phones, and computers with quality cyber security apps. Like hackers, cyber security protection software must also constantly evolve to keep abreast of the latest cyber security attack malware and tactics. Good quality security software only costs a few dollars a month and can protect all of your family’s devices. If you don’t know which one to pick, check out a few of our reviews.
30% Cheaper Tax Filing
3. Secure Your Home Network
One of the safest locations to file your taxes online is from your home network. But that’s only true if your home network is secure and protected. Your home network should have a router that’s fast and uses the latest security protocols. A secure router can help protect your data, including all the personal information that your tax returns contain. Be sure to change your router username and password. Many routers ship from the manufacturer with one standard username and password all of which can be found online.
Most modern routers usually have at least two networks and probably even a guest network enabled. Your home network also needs to be secured with a strong password to stop hackers from getting in. If you want to learn about how to set a strong password, read our post about the most common hacked passwords and guidelines on how to create a strong one that’s hard to guess.
Guests should be confined to using your guest network. Remember anyone using the same WiFi connection can see your internet traffic.
4. Use a VPN
Use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your data when you file taxes online, send emails, or log into websites. Anyone who is sharing your network, whether it’s at home or work, can intercept your login credentials and personal information. It’s not very hard. A VPN encrypts all the private data coming from your phone or laptop.
Whether you file taxes online or in the mail, the forms contain a lot of personal information about you and your family including birthdates, social security numbers, address, and income. A VPN will help protect your sensitive data. If you want some ideas and a good VPN to use, I use IPVanish and wrote about it here in this post. But you can read a comparison of VPNs in this blog post and see the pros and cons of each along with pricing. If you travel a lot, you might want to consider a VPN with a large selection of servers like NordVPN.
VPNs also come in handy when you’re traveling or if you work remotely, VPNs can be used to protect your data anytime and anywhere for using an internet connection that’s not secure.
5. Never File Taxes Online Using Public WiFi
Never use public Wi-Fi to file your taxes online or for any other personal information for that matter. Public WiFi connections are not secure even if the retail establishment, hotel, or coffee shop gives you a password to use your WiFi connection for the day. No matter where the Wi-Fi connection is, anyone using the same network can intercept and read your data.
You filed file your taxes online on a shared public WiFi connection you’re asking for trouble hackers can monitor public Wi-Fi connections so they can see your tax returns and read all the personal information highly sensitive information contained on your tax forms they may also be able to steal your tax refund bank account numbers, and your identity
6. Use Strong Passwords
Use strong hard-to-guess passwords on every online account. Each of your online accounts needs to have a unique, hard to guess password. That means a password is never used for more than one online account, app, or device. Many people use the same login credentials on one or more online accounts. If a hacker steals one password, they can use it to brute-force attack your other online accounts. For example, if you use the same password on social media as you do for your email you are putting your other accounts at risk. If this is too hard to do, use a password manager to help you remember them.
Hackers get login credentials by gleaning them from public WiFi connections, in malware attacks, or by buying them on the dark web. Recently a few hundred thousand payment cards stolen in the Wawa data breach were put up for sale on a dark web marketplace known as Joker’s Stash.
If a hacker steals the login credentials you use for Facebook or Instagram, they can use it to hack into your email account. After that, hackers can use your email account to reset passwords to more sensitive accounts like your bank or credit cards. If you use that same password for filing your taxes online, a hacker can also steal your social security number, your identity, and possibly your income tax refund
7. Update Software
Update all of your software to protect your pride in your sensitive tax return information. This doesn’t just mean the income tax software you’re using to file your taxes online. It means that you should update all of the apps on your phone and computers to keep your devices and your data safe from hackers.
Often app Developers issue updates and patches to fix security bugs found in their amps and even on Hardware. If you delay updating apps then you leave your device, the apps, and all the private information on your electronic device vulnerable to hackers.
If you use your computer or phone to file your taxes online it’s important that you keep all your apps up to date including your income tax filing software and the operating system of the device itself.
In January, Microsoft announced that it will no longer offer security patches or any support for Windows 7 computers. It’s a good move because Windows 7 computers are so old, they don’t offer the latest security features that newer laptops and computers do. Computers running Windows 10 use come with facial recognition or fingerprint scans to protect the computer and all the private information on it. When you use facial recognition or fingerprint scans to lock your computer or laptop, it protects your income tax data, all of your photos, your private messages, emails, and the content you looked at from hackers or unauthorized users. If you haven’t yet upgraded to Windows 10 computer then consider getting a new machine.
8. Check for encryption
When you have all of your computations done and you finally go to file your taxes online, make sure the website you’re on is encrypted. That means that the website uses HTTPS and has a lock icon showing next to the website URL. Double check that you are indeed on the website you intended to go to – whether you’re filing online using Tax Cut or H&R Block or you’re filing directly on the Internal Revenue Service website itself, protect yourself by confirming the website address and that is using HTTPS at all times.
9. Backup Tax Data
If you file taxes online using a website, then make sure you take a backup of your data. Get a copy of your tax reform forms as a PDF. If you file using an income tax app like tax cut and make a second copy of your income tax return on an external hard drive and save the file created by the income tax software and save your income tax forms and all schedules of PDF documents.