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Don’t Get Ripped Off While Getting Ripped Off

Today should be called, National Tax Procrastinators Day. It should be a day off. There should be a huge barbecue party at midnight. We should acknowledge that denial is a healthy way to cope with having to do accounting – instead of actual work for those of us who aren’t accountants — under the threat of fiscal punishment from our government. Sure, we all have to do it. But there should be some sort of mass revelry once we get it done.

I don’t have a party to announce. But I have been partying pretty much non-stop since I finished my hellish (freelance writer!) taxes a couple of days early. (Thank you TurboTax! I could not have done it without you!)

I do have some tips from Robert Siciliano, identity theft expert for McAfee, which is part of Intel Security, (below) on how not to get ripped off by anyone except the government while you scramble to get your taxes paid. (Actually, I think taxes are a fine thing, in theory, since I like having roads and whatnot. I just don’t enjoy doing the accounting.)

 Filing online is the way to go. But don’t fall for any of these scams:

  • Phishing: If you get an unsolicited email that seems to be from the IRS or similar, requesting personal information (especially bank account information, passwords or PINs) or claiming you’re being audited, it’s time to smell a big rotting phish. The IRS will never contact you via email, text message or social media. Make sure you don’t click on any links or open or download any attachments if you even suspect that the message is fake. Report any time of phishing to phishing@irs.gov.
  • The fake IRS agent: Crooks will pose as IRS agents and contact you by email or phone. They’ll already have a few details about you, probably lifted off your Facebook page, using this information to convince you they’re the real deal. If you sense a scam, go to IRS.gov/phishing.
  • The rogue tax preparer: It’s best to use a reputable tax return service, rather than an independent-type preparer. After all, some of these preparers have been known to charge extra high fees for getting you a bigger return, or steal some of your refund.

Keep these tips in mind the rest of the year:

  • Protect your data. From the moment they arrive in your mailbox, your personal information (financial institution numbers, investment records, Social Security numbers, etc.) must be secured. Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact and are sure of the recipient.
  • Chuck the papers. Opt for electronic statements to be received via email to eliminate paper statements coming into your mail box where thieves could get at them.
  • Check and monitor your statements. To ensure that you’re not a victim, the best thing to do is to monitor you monthly bank statements and do a credit report at least once a year.
  • Use a clean machine. Make sure that the computer you use is not infected or compromised. The operating system and browser should be updated. It should have comprehensive, up to date security software, like McAfee LiveSafeâ„¢ service, which protects all your devices, you data and your identity

Comments

  1. Thank you for the article. It informs readers of the pitfalls of not being careful. i actually had a young man tell me about someone filing taxes in his name. Any advice that helps heighten awareness is a great benefit.