Certified Public Accountant

{2:48 minutes to read} Last year, taxpayers experienced more identity theft than ever when filing their tax returns. This may not be an IRS fault so much as taxpayers having had their information stolen some other way and, subsequently, that information being used to get phony refunds with the IRS.

I do not pretend in any way to be a security expert and, of course, we cannot prevent all theft, but just as we don't walk down the street with $100 bills hanging out of our pockets, there are some things that you can do to help prevent cyber-robbery.

This is just common sense from a guy who's been in business for 40 years and has seen it change from writing things on paper to doing everything electronically:

  • Make sure you have a firewall
  • Make sure you have virus protection
  • Make sure that your emails are encrypted or secure in some other way (if you don't know what that means, contact your internet service provider [ISP])
  • Don't leave personal information lying around
  • Use very strong passwords
  • Protect your passwords
  • Do not leave your passwords on your computer
  • Update passwords often
  • Back up your files
  • Don't open attachments in emails unless you know who sent them
  • Use popup blockers

One of the simplest things you can do is always turn off your computer or make sure it goes into a “sleep” mode that requires a password to be reopened.

Nothing guarantees your safety, and people who are looking or phishing for data will always be able to get someone’s information, just as criminals will always be able to successfully do crimes. However, we can minimize the chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. Just like a burglar alarm in your home might make the burglar go to the next house, protecting your information as strongly as you possibly can might make someone who is phishing for your personal information give up and go to the next person.

As we approach tax season, you don't want your identity stolen, because it's a very, very long process to get the IRS to figure out who is the real you.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at info@gannscpa.com or call us at 914-682-7007.