In light of this year’s National Tax Security Awareness Week (Nov. 29, 2021-Dec. 3, 2021), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Security Summit partners warned both taxpayers and tax professionals alike to raise their levels of awareness during the upcoming holiday and tax seasons.

The IRS and Security Summit partners have taken great measures to protect taxpayers and tax professionals from identity theft since 2015. As a result of these efforts, identity thieves have been forced to adapt their tactics to obtain sensitive information from their victims, and their scams have become more and more devious. In tandem with the ongoing pandemic, this time of year is the perfect storm for criminals to steal financial and personal information. Consequently, individuals should exercise great care while doing their holiday shopping and opening emails and texts.

To prevent identity theft and fraudulent tax returns from being filed, the IRS urges individuals to protect their personal information by following the safety steps introduced in the Security Summit’s “Taxes. Security. Together.” campaign.

  • Always using security software with firewall and antivirus protection. Software should be updated regularly and sensitive files (such as tax records) should be encrypted when saved on personal computers. Strong passwords are imperative.
  • Leveraging multi-factor authentication wherever possible. This simple method of protection is now used in many social media and email accounts to safeguard users’ personal information by adding another verification step. Opting to use this feature prevents data thieves from accessing online accounts and stealing personal information.
  • Learning to recognize phishing attempts. For example, the IRS will never send you emails requesting personal information. Avoid clicking suspicious links or downloading any attachments from unknown email addresses.
  • Safeguarding your personal data. It’s not wise to carry around important documents like your Social Security card, so leave these safe at home. As a rule of thumb, treat your personal information like cash – don’t leave it lying around.

For more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft, contact Doeren Mayhew’s individual tax advisors today.