While Shakespeare is better known as an excellent playwright, vivacious actor, and sublime constructor of the English language, he also has a not-so-well-known, historical record for tax evasion, hoarding, and the selling of grain at atrocious prices during years of famine. Although we are not here to discuss the moral ethics of Shakespeare, we should ask ourselves “to e-file or not to e-file.”
As the season for filing your taxes approaches and with many already waiting for their returns, e-filing security is on the minds of many. According to WMBF News, in 2012 the Department of Revenue (DOR) was hacked, compromising millions of taxpayers’ personal information. Samantha Cheek, the spokesperson for the DOR, believes that for 2014 “e-filing is not only safe, it may be more secure than filing a paper return. Paper returns are handled by numerous people and can be stolen.” The DOR is now implementing Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and monitoring their web activity closely. But how can you know that e-filing your taxes will keep your information safe from those that will be prowling the streets of the internet looking for their next e-filing victim? Below are a few things to keep in mind during tax season.
Beware of the Bait
By using “phishing emails,” the DOR hacker in 2012 was able to get access to the DOR system at any time causing the breech in security. Phishing baits are everywhere from emails to social media. Just be leery. They all promise different things, but they all want the same thing: your identity.
E-filing Into Fraud
E-filing is the most convenient way to file your taxes and the quickest way to get your return back. By e-filing your taxes, the IRS says you are entering into a world “where hackers have already proven they’re pretty savvy.” Another precaution you can take is being sure that your e-filing provider is using the latest in web application security by checking their security and privacy policies.
There are a few things you can do on your own that create a secure environment for e-filing. First, be sure that your computer and web browser are up to date. This will ensure that any simple holes that a hacker might use are patched. Also before working on your taxes, make sure your network’s wireless router’s security is enabled; along with that, never file your taxes from a public, wireless hot spot. And as always, choose a strong password that contains a variety of numbers, letters, and characters.
In closing, WMBF News states, “the bottom line is there’s no fool proof plan when a thief is on the prowl. That’s why experts say stay informed. Check your credit often. Make sure your preparer is a reputable person or firm and if you suspect something is amiss, report it immediately.”