Tax Security Tips

Education | 03/22/24
A tax expert analyzing documents.

It’s tax season, and that means tax-related scams are running rampant. From fraudulent tax preparers to stolen Social Security numbers, there are many ways your money and information can be compromised this time of year. Here at Ascend, we’ve provided you with a few security tips to help you stay safe and secure during tax season.

Keep your Social Security number (SSN) safe

Your SSN is the most valuable piece of personal information for identity thieves because of the opportunities it gives them. To keep it safe, avoid carrying your Social Security card with you and never share your SSN unnecessarily. When filling out tax forms, double-check your SSN, and those of your spouse and dependents, to ensure they’re accurate. If you suspect your SSN has been compromised, contact the Social Security Administration immediately.

Additionally, be wary of phishing scams, where scammers pose as the IRS or tax preparers to trick you into revealing your SSN. If you receive a suspicious message, don’t respond or click on any links.

Finally, if you receive a notice from the IRS that someone else has already filed a return using your SSN, follow the instructions provided by the IRS to resolve the issue.

Use strong, unique passwords when filing taxes

Your online tax accounts contain sensitive information, so it’s important to use strong passwords that are difficult to guess. Avoid using passwords like “123456” or “password”. Instead, use a variety of letters, numbers, capitalization use and symbols. Consider using a password manager to help you create and store strong passwords for all your accounts. It’s also essential to use different passwords for each account, so if one account is compromised, your other accounts won’t also be at risk. Finally, enable two-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.

Be wary of phone scams

Phone scams are a common tactic used by scammers to trick people into revealing their personal and financial information. These scammers often pose as IRS agents and threaten legal action if you don’t pay an alleged tax debt immediately.

Remember: The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, threaten legal action or ask for your credit card or debit card information over the phone. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately and report the incident to the IRS.

Secure your mailbox

Identity thieves do more than just plunder your information online. They also look for sensitive information in mailboxes. Make sure your mailbox is secure and is emptied daily. When mailing important information that can spell disaster if it falls into the wrong hands, you may want to drop it off at a post office or public mailbox instead of putting it in your mailbox. Finally, consider using a locked mailbox or a P.O. box to protect your mail.

Use secure Wi-Fi networks

When filing your taxes online, be sure to use a secure Wi-Fi network to prevent hackers from intercepting your information. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks, as they can be easily compromised. Instead, use a secure, password-protected Wi-Fi network that you trust.

Check your credit report

It’s a good idea to check your credit report on a regular basis for suspicious activity. This is especially important during tax season. Checking your credit report can help you catch criminal activity, such as unauthorized credit applications or accounts fraudulently opened in your name, as early as possible. Also note that you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once every calendar year. Review your credit report carefully and report any errors or suspicious activity to the credit reporting agencies immediately. 

Beware of tax scams

Scammers love tax season, when there’s ample opportunity to trick people into revealing their personal and financial information. Be wary of any unsolicited emails, phone calls or text messages claiming to be from the IRS or other tax-related organizations. Also, be skeptical of any promises of big refunds or threats of legal action. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Tax time is always rampant with circulating scams. Follow these tips to keep your money and your information safe this season. For more information, check out our fraud prevention page, or our blog on staying safe from credit card fraud. If you’re an Ascend member and you believe you’ve fallen victim to fraud, call us immediately at 800-342-3086.

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