In light of the recent international WannaCry ransomeware attack, we'd like to remind everyone how important it is to protect your online identity and take appropriate security measures to ensure your data, business and family are safe. Truax takes every precaution to protect your tax information and values the trust you've placed in us. To show how committed we are in that effort, we've published a collection of articles which provides the latest security best practices you can and should adopt in your own home or business.


PART I: SEVEN TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR COMPUTER ONLINE

Scammers, hackers and identity thieves are looking to steal your personal information – and your money. But there are simple steps you can take to help protect yourself, like keeping your computer software up-to-date and giving out your personal information only when you have a good reason.

We all have a role to play to protect your tax account. There are just a few easy and practical steps you can take to protect yourself as you conduct your personal business online.


PART II: How to Avoid Phishing Scams and Malware

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued a stern warning for consumers after seeing a 400% surge in identity and data theft incidents in the first few weeks of the 2016 tax season.

No doubt you’ve heard of phishing scams which use “bait” from emails, telephone calls and texts to separate you from your cash, your passwords, your social security number or your very identity. Cybercriminals on a daily basis concoct new ways to trick people into turning over cash or sensitive data that can affect your taxes. And the frightening part is that they work. 


PART III: 7 STEPS FOR MAKING IDENTITY PROTECTION PART OF YOUR ROUTINE

In 2016, the entire tax industry joined together to enact new safeguards and actions in an effort to combat tax-related identity theft. Many of these will be invisible to you but are invaluable tools used to help fight against these criminal syndicates.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. However, identity theft can occur in a variety of forms including stolen personal data such as your name, address, bank account numbers and even children’s names. 


PART IV: ONLINE SECURITY AT HOME

For families with children and aging parents, it’s important to make sure everyone guards their personal information online and at home. It may be time for “the conversation” to ensure your family is not at risk for identity theft or scams.

Seniors are especially vulnerable to scam calls and pressure from fraudulent individuals posing as legitimate organizations, including the Internal Revenue Service, demanding payment for debts not owed. The IRS will never make threats of lawsuit or jail or demand a certain payment method be used such as a debit or credit card.


PART V: USING CREDIT BUREAUS TO HELP PROTECT FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS

If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft, you should contact one of the three major credit bureaus immediately to place a “fraud alert” on your credit account. This critically important step makes it harder for identity thieves to obtain a credit card or loan in your name. Contacting a credit bureau can help you in many ways, including helping protect your tax information.

A fraud alert is free, remains in effect for 90 days and can be renewed if necessary. It provides a red flag where thieves may be trying to open accounts and legitimate businesses may take additional steps to verify identities.


PART VI: PROTECTING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION ONLINE

As the threat of identify theft continues to grow, it’s important to take appropriate steps to keep your personal information secure. This includes Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and bank or utility account numbers which can all be used to steal money or open new accounts in your name.

Every time you’re asked for your personal information think about whether you can really trust the request. In an effort to steal your information, scammers will do everything they can to appear trustworthy.


PART VII: KEEPING YOUR TAX RECORDS SECURE

Tax records should always be kept safe and secure, whether they are on paper or saved electronically. The same is true for any financial or health records you store, especially any document bearing Social Security numbers.

Because of your tax data’s sensitive nature, the loss or theft of these documents could lead to identity theft and have a huge financial impact. Many documents contain Social Security numbers of yourself, your spouse and your dependents. They also include W-2 income and bank account information which can be very valuable to identity thieves.