This article was last edited on June 27, 2017. For updated information about protecting your information, read 5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Data Theft.
When it comes to protecting yourself and your family from identity theft, you can never be too careful. New measures to protect the American taxpayer against identity theft refund fraud were announced this week by the IRS, state tax administrators and leaders of the tax industry.
Likewise, TaxSlayer cares about safeguarding the data and privacy of individuals. You play an important role, too. TaxSlayer Chief Information Security Officer Michael Blache, recommends five tips for protecting yourself from identity theft:
- Password protect your accounts. Create a complex password using upper- and lower-case letters and numbers. The security standard for eight character passwords was released in 1985. Now, passwords should be at least 15 characters long. Because complex passwords can be difficult to remember, there are many tips and tricks to help create a strong password that is easy to remember. Check out these password recommendations for some suggestions.
- Do not reuse passwords. In addition to password protecting your accounts, use a different password for each account. That way, every account won’t be compromised if one account is compromised. Keeping up with different passwords for multiple accounts can be difficult. Password managers such as LastPass and KeePass offer software solutions to help ease the burden.
- Be wary of email. Never send personal details via email. If you absolutely have to email personal information, attach a password protected document to the email with the needed information. Make sure the password is complex and different from any other account. Use another method, such as a phone call, to relay the password for the file to the intended recipient. This should be done as a last resort and does not provide complete protection.
- Be careful what you post on social media. Attackers can use your posts to learn more about you and potentially compromise your accounts. For example, you use the security question, “What was the first elementary school you attended?” If you post a childhood photo of you and a friend at South Elementary, the attacker has a good idea of the security question’s answer.
- Shred everything. When you clean the house and purge documents, ask yourself, “Do I care if anyone sees this?” If the answer is anything but “no,” then shred it. Shredders capable of handling small loads can be purchased inexpensively. The cost of a shredder is much less than the costs associated with someone stealing your identity.
Protecting yourself from identity theft is important in many areas of life, not just filing your taxes. Make sure to take appropriate steps to safeguard your personal information.
We provide these tips as a guide. TaxSlayer is not responsible for security breaches.