TEMPLE, TX — Internet hackers work around the clock, year around.
With tax season right around the corner, a lot of us will get online to fill out our tax return forms and those hackers are ready to steal your identity.
The IRS identifiedover $10 billion worth of tax fraud in 2020, mainly during COVID-19.
“Because of the pandemic and all of that, people now feel they have to file a tax return online,” Dr. Abhijit Nag, an assistant professor of computer information systems at Texas A&M Central Texas said. “Using their home machines, computers.”
It’s a time of the year when many of us will trust a website with our most personal information, like our social security numbers, our addresses and more.
“They’re like oh my god, I lost a lot of money, I didn't know, TurboTax didn’t ask me,” Cecilia Cruz, the director of operations at Honorable Taxes LLC explained, recalling conversations with past clients. “A lot of those softwares, who knows who even created those.”
While tax season was pushed back a few weeks this year to February 12th, due to the addition of government funds because of the pandemic, experts are already warning those who are ready to file early.
“While trying to complete your tax return online, you should be much aware of how much information you’re giving,” Nag advised.
But there are ways to prevent identity theft.
Experts advise logging on to your chosen website, making sure your website is secure and always using a strong password with a duo authentication method to back it up.
“They need to make sure that this is actually a trusted website, or a trusted third party vendor who is very well known numerous years,” Nag added.
However, if you’re unlucky and fell victim to identity theft, experts say it’s best to file again and take the necessary precautions when moving forward.
“A lot of the time people don't know who stole their identity but the investigation can be made through tax returns, through credit companies, creditors, credit reports,” Cruz explained.
She also said that if you were a victim of identity theft to call the IRS and request an IP PIN. It's a number that’s like a social security number, but only you’ll have it when filing your taxes, making it the safest way to file.