by Michael Lodge
The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today announced the start of “National Tax Security Awareness Week.” As part of the Security Summit effort, the IRS, the states and the tax community will share a variety of information throughout next week to educate taxpayers on steps they should take to protect themselves from identity theft and tax scams as well as protect their valuable financial data in advance of the upcoming filing season.
The week, which runs Dec. 5-9, will feature a series of consumer warnings and tips that will be released daily and featured on the Taxes. Security. Together. web page and a one-page Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.
The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax community came together in 2015 to combat tax-related identity theft as a coordinated partnership. But they realized one partner was missing: taxpayers.
The IRS and its partners need the help of all taxpayers to help protect important tax and financial data. The Security Summit also needs the help of tax professionals and businesses to share information and help educate clients and employees about security measures.
“With holiday shopping underway and the 2017 tax season about to begin in January, we are entering a period where many people will be using sensitive financial and tax data on their computers,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “In the months ahead, more than 100 million tax returns will be completed on laptops and desktops by taxpayers and tax professionals, making this the perfect time to take steps to protect your valuable information. As the holiday season approaches, we also encourage everyone to look out for friends and family who may not be tech savvy and may be leaving their computers vulnerable to identity thieves.”
The IRS and its partners will be promoting a range of topics related to computer security and tax scams, reminding taxpayers to:
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer. Use strong passwords.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card company and government organizations, including the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Protect your personal data. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure. Treat your personal information like you do your cash; don’t leave it lying around.
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