10 Cyber Security Tips for the 2022 Tax Season

Tax season will be here before you know it! In fact, starting on January 24th, the 2022 tax season officially begins. While taxes may seem like a scary topic, Lamont Accounting Services hopes to make the task of taxes seem less daunting! That starts with being prepared.

Every second of every day, scammers, phishers, and hackers do their best to access information that isn't theirs. This only increases ten-fold when tax season comes around. They prey on people's stress, uncertainty, and confusion during this time. Make sure you don't fall victim; protect your private information by following these 10 simple tips to stay secure when filing your taxes!

1.Don't click on suspicious links - Phishing is common practice for scammers during tax season. While some emails are clearly spam, others do a really great job of disguising themselves as genuine emails. DON'T click on links if you're not 100% certain where they came from. If you receive an unexpected email from your place of employment regarding W-2 or tax information, double check with the sender to confirm its legitimacy before clicking on any links.

2.Increase your password strength - As much as we don't like to admit it, most of us have repeated a password or two. It might feel like we're doing ourself a favor by using easy-to-remember passwords, but your accounts are left more susceptible to hackers and scammers. Any accounts related to taxes, banking, or other secure information should be treated with special care and have extra-strong passwords.

3.Don't give sensitive information over the phone - Remember, the IRS will NEVER call you and ask for your personal information. Don't fall for fraudulent phone calls that ask you to confirm any identifying information. If this happens, hang up immediately, block the contact, and report the number to the IRS. You can read more about how to do that on the IRS website.

4.Enable 2-factor authentication - Whenever possible, enable 2FA. This is makes it so every log in to your banking accounts, business information, or other high-priority websites, requires a pin that is sent to a designated email or phone number.

5.Avoid public Wi-fi - If you can, don't file your taxes while connected to public Wi-Fi. This includes your local coffee shop, library, or school. These networks are usually not secure and are easily hacked. Meaning, all the data you access while connected to that network could be visible to whoever has access.

6.File taxes sooner rather than later - While not necessarily a cyber tip, filing your taxes sooner rather than later gives hackers, scammers, and phishers a smaller window of time to try to access your information. You'll have peace of mind knowing that you completed your taxes, and they cannot be filed for you by an illegitimate party.

7.Don't open attachments from suspicious emails - Similar to link hacking, scammers will often hide their phishing attempts through nefarious attachments. You'll be asked to download an attachment (PDF, JPG, Word doc, etc.) which will place unwanted malware on to your device. If you don't recognize the email, the sender's name, or something just seems off, it's better to delete the email thread entirely as to not accidentally click on anything.

8.Use a VPN - If you must use public Wi-Fi when filing your taxes, make sure you're using a VPN. A VPN is a virtual private network. This creates a private network from a public Wi-Fi connection, making it much harder for hackers to access your information.

9.Encrypt electronically stored documents - If you store your important tax documents on your computer, which most people do nowadays, be sure it's saved securely. Unfortunately, saving your files as regular documents doesn't always cut it anymore. Using a reputable file encryption service can help keep your information safe when accessing or storing it.

10.Stay up to date on new tax scams -The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to stay informed. Check up on the news for the latest information on popular tax scams. New scams pop up daily, so be sure to stay vigilant about the potential dangers. 

The best thing to do as the 2022 tax season approaches is to stay calm! Lamont Accounting Services is always here to help you with any questions, or requests you need during this time. Make sure to contact us to start getting your tax needs in order.  

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