Data breaches have reached record levels recently, these are situations that pose a threat to individuals daily.  Taxpayers can follow a few steps to protect data such as personal and financial information online and at home.  Criminals have the ability to steal large amounts of personal data from taxpayers and tax preparers.  Criminals use stolen data to file fraudulent tax returns or commit other crimes while impersonating victims.

During tax season be extra cautious and watch out for Internal Revenue Service impersonators.  Always keep in mind the IRS will not call you with threats of jail or lawsuits.  The IRS will not send unsolicited emails regarding your refund or requesting to update personal information.  The IRS will never contact you via emails requesting sensitive information online.  Taxpayers can forward IRS related scam emails to and IRS impersonation telephone calls at

All taxpayers can follow these steps to protect yourself and personal information:

Protect Data by Securing your Computer

  • Purchase security software that updates automatically such tools include a firewall, virus and malware protection and file encryption for sensitive information.
  • Personal information should not be easily accessible to others.
  • Give personal information only on encrypted websites, look fro “https” addresses.
  • Use strong passwords that include letters, numbers and symbols and make sure to protect them.

Avoid Phishing and Malware

  • Do not respond to phishing emails, texts or calls that appear to be from the IRS or other businesses.  You should verify company contact information by going directly to that company’s website.
  • Think twice before opening email attachments.
  • Download and install software from known and trusted websites.
  • Use a pop-up blocker.

Protect Personal Information

  • Do not carry your Social Security number with you or documents with showing your Social Security number.
  • Do not over share your personal information on social media.  This information includes past addresses, new car, new home and children.
  • Keep old tax returns and documents locked in a safe or desk.
  • You can safeguard electronic files by encrypting them.
  • Shred tax documents before you throw them away.