Alabama Department of Revenue Announces Tax Security Awareness Week, Nov 27 - Dec 1
Event Focuses on Protecting Tax, Financial Data in Advance of Holidays, Filing Season
For the second year, ADOR is partnering with the IRS, other state tax agencies and the tax industry to encourage both individual and business taxpayers to take additional steps to protect their tax data and identities in advance of the 2018 filing season.
Starting Nov. 27, National Tax Security Awareness Week will focus daily on one issue that poses a threat to individuals and businesses and offer steps they may take to better protect themselves from cybercriminals. This is especially timely as the holiday season brings out not only online shoppers, but also online thieves seeking to trick people into disclosing sensitive information that could be used to help file fraudulent tax returns.
The week also comes amid continuing disclosures that more than 145 million Americans have had their names, addresses and Social Security numbers stolen from a variety of places. No one yet knows how cybercriminals will use this data or try to make money from it.
The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, partners in the Security Summit, have enacted a series of defenses in recent years that have made significant inroads into tax-related identity theft. While the Summit partners continue to improve defenses, they also recognize that they need help from taxpayers, tax preparers and businesses to continue progress against identity theft.
There are three key steps the Summit partners urge people to take to protect tax and financial information:
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as banks, credit card companies and government organizations, including the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and will automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records stored on computers. Use strong passwords.
- Protect personal data. Use strong, unique passwords for each online account. Don’t routinely carry Social Security cards, and make sure tax records are secure. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.
Increasing public awareness about people’s role in protecting their own data is a critical part of the Security Summit efforts. Partners launched the “Taxes. Security. Together.” awareness campaign in the fall of 2015.
The partners followed up with the “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” campaign aimed at tax professionals. Partners also held a 10-week “Don’t Take the Bait” awareness effort, warning tax professionals of the most common data breach scams targeting their offices and taxpayer data.