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How To Avoid Falling Victim To An E-File Tax Scam

In our digital world, many people turn to the convenience of the Internet to file their taxes. In fact, according to the IRS, about 91% of returns were filed electronically in 2017.

The high number of people who opt for e-file provides scammers with yet another opportunity to steal personal information. This article will provide you with ways you can keep your personal information safe if you choose to file your tax return electronically.

What Is An E-File Tax Scam?

With an e-file scam, criminals use fake tax preparation sites to steal personal information. Here’s how it works…

You go online to search for a tax preparation service to electronically file your tax return. You find one, but instead of landing on a legitimate site, you click on a look-alike site created by scammers. This may even mimic the look and feel of other legitimate tax preparation service company websites. The fake site is set up to collect personal information that the scammers can use to commit fraud and identity theft. If you enter your personal information into this impostor site, you could compromise your identity.checkbook with a hand writing the word tax

How To Avoid Falling Victim To An E-File Tax Scam

So how do you avoid falling victim to an e-file scam? We have a few tips.

  1. File your tax return as early in the season as possible.
  2. Use a secure Internet connection. Never utilize public Wi-Fi to file your tax return.
  3. Before you file your taxes with an online tax preparation service, look for the tax preparer identification number. The IRS requires all paid tax preparers to have one before filing returns.
  4. Check to ensure the website is encrypted. Look for the “https” at the start of the URL. The “s” indicates that the site is secure. You may notice that some websites only use encryption on the sign-in page, but if any part of your session isn’t encrypted, your entire account could become compromised. That’s why it’s essential to make sure “https” is on every page you visit.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask tax prepares questions about their data security properties, and how they protect your sensitive information. Many online tax prepareres such as TurboTax provide you with this information on their website. Launch CU provides a direct link to TurboTax, plus up to a $15 savings when you file through the Launch link.

What To Do If You Have Fallen Victim to Tax Fraud

If you do fall victim to identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report it to the FTC, file an Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS, and get a personal recovery plan in place. In addition, if you happen to spot a scam, report it immediately to the FTC. Filing a report helps the FTC and other law enforcement agencies investigate scams and bring criminals to justice.

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