Christopher M. Parks, tax season, We each need to take steps to protect ourselves and our business against identity theft, often referred to as ID theft. The Internal Revenue Service stresses the importance of individual vigilance during tax season by sponsoring National Tax Security Awareness Week. During this week, the IRS put out key tips to keep in mind as you prepare to submit your income tax forms.

Keep personal data safe. Criminals are looking for your sensitive data including credit cards, financial accounts, and Social Security numbers. Use strong, unique passwords for each online account and avoid routinely carrying a Social Security card. Also avoid unsecured Wi-Fi in public locations.

Avoid phishing emails by data thieves. Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls, and texts from thieves. Never click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious email addresses. Remember: the IRS doesn’t initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email or phone to request personal or financial information.

Take steps to protect data after a breach. You can take specific steps if a criminal steals your information. You can use credit monitoring services, put a freeze on accounts and reset passwords. We provide additional information on the INB website.

Avoid the W-2 scam. If you’re an employer, you can take steps to protect your employees’ data from the growing W-2 email scam. Educate employees about how to recognize an email from a thief who wants to gain access to sensitive data so they do not respond to these scam emails.

Beware of scams against employers. Just like individuals, businesses may have their identities stolen. Small businesses and large businesses alike should protect employer identification numbers. In 2018, the IRS is also asking employers to provide additional information to help verify the legitimacy of their tax return. Such information includes filing history, payment history and parent company information. In the case of a sole proprietorship, the IRS might ask for a driver’s license number.

For more information on small business information security, review this IRS publication:

The publication will walk you through:

  • Understanding and managing your risks,
  • Safeguarding your business information
  • Working safely and securely

If you need help with your 2017 personal or business tax return, give me a call at 217-679-1676.