Filing taxes online: 4 tips to help prevent fraud

David Pollino
Posted by David Pollino
Security

Who doesn’t love electronic filing of taxes? It’s quick and convenient — and susceptible to fraud.

White-haired man filing taxes using a laptop computer in his home office.In early February Intuit temporarily stopped electronic transmission of state income tax returns through TurboTax after it detected a rise in suspicious filings. As we all conduct more and more private activities online, the TurboTax incident is a reminder that we all need to constantly protect ourselves and our computers from hackers and fraudsters.

Here are four tips to help protect yourself during tax season and throughout the year:

1. Help protect your computer from infection by following common best practices, such as keeping software updated, using strong passwords, encrypting your data, and deleting suspicious emails.

2. Enable multi-factor authentication so that if your tax return is accessed from multiple computers or even different browsers, you’ll receive an email to verify your identity. I began my return this year, for example, using Safari, and later worked on it through Firefox. When I tried to log on with Firefox, I received an email to verify my identity.

3. Beware of phishing scams (watch our 60-second video) in which hackers send fraudulent emails that look legitimate and may fool you into going to a website that can install malicious software on your computer.

4. If you’ve had a virus on a particular computer, then don’t use that device to file taxes or conduct other sensitive electronic activities.

Following these tips may help protect you and keep criminals from taking over your tax return while it’s being prepared online.

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