IRS Promotes National Tax Security Awareness Week; Urges Everyone to Protect Sensitive Data as 2020 Tax Season Approaches

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IRS launched a nationwide campaign to mark the 4th annual National Tax Security Awareness Week, calling on people to step up their security safeguards against identity theft as the 2020 tax season approaches.

The holiday shopping season is the prime time for identity thieves who are trying to steal financial and personal data, either to drain credit/bank accounts or file fraudulent tax returns in the victims’ names early in 2020.

Internal Revenue Service is partnering with state tax agencies, the nation’s tax industry and other partners to elevate awareness around basic security steps. Remember, treat your data like your dollars; don’t leave them lying around.

People should be extra careful this holiday season to protect their sensitive personal information. This information can be used by identity thieves to file false tax returns and many other things.  Don’t let this be a season of giving to identity thieves. Turn it into a season of protection for you, your family and your friends.

During this holiday season, there are basic steps people can easily overlook that they can take to protect themselves. These include:

  •  Shop at websites where the web address begins “https” – the “s” is for secure communications.
  • Don’t shop on unsecured public wi-fi in malls or hotels, where thieves can tap in.
  • Secure your home wi-fi with a password.
  • Use security software for computers and mobile phones; keep it updated.
  • Protect your personal information; don’t hand it out to just anyone.
  • Use strong and unique passwords for your accounts.
  • Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Back up your files on computers and mobile phones. 

Watch out for scam emails during holidays, tax season

The most common way thieves steal identities or account passwords is simply by asking for it through phishing emails. Remember, don’t take the bait! Recognize and avoid phishing emails. These tricky scams often:

  • Pose as companies you know and trust, including places like the IRS.
  • These emails tell an urgent story to trick you into opening a link or an attachment, which can lead to adding a virus or spyware onto your computer.

And, no, that’s not the IRS calling demanding a tax payment on a gift card. Remember: 

  • The IRS does not call demanding payment and making threats of jail or lawsuits
  • The IRS does not demand payment via gift or debit cards. The IRS does not accept tax payments on iTunes cards. At tax time, checks should be addressed to “U.S. Treasury.”
  • The IRS does not send unsolicited emails about refunds or payments, requesting your login credentials, Social Security numbers or other sensitive information.

Just a few simple security steps can make all the difference. Protect your data; protect your money and your financial information.

 

Article written by The IRS