File your taxes safely this year

Filing taxes requires individuals to collect a great deal of documents and information that displays their personal and financial details. W-2s, bank records, investment statements, student loan paperwork and invoices generally include a taxpayer's full name, Social Security number, bank account number, date of birth and address. This information, in the wrong hands, can lead to cases of fraud and identity theft, making it important for individuals to safeguard their information during filing season.

First, individuals who retrieve tax records or choose to file electronically should not rely on public Wi-Fi to complete this process. Although the public Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop may be purposeful for browsing Google, avoid inputting private details, usernames and passwords. In some cases, public Wi-Fi may not have the proper security and encryption to protect an individual's information, leaving them vulnerable to hacking.

In addition, it's important that taxpayers ensure all the security settings, anti-virus updates and firewalls are up-to-date on their home computers to protect their information from being jeopardized. As filing season heats up, not only will many households choose to file online, but will also be receiving important information from a number of financial entities, CBS MoneyWatch reports.

During tax season, taxpayers may also receive offers from different websites offering free e-File services. However, before using these free services, it's imperative to verify the validity of these websites and ensure their security is up to par. While there are a number of legitimate free or low-cost services available, individuals who are concerned with their online security should visit a licensed tax preparer to e-file their taxes.

Lastly, the IRS may choose to get in touch with an individual for a number of reasons. However, it's imperative to understand that the government agency will never contact taxpayers via email. For this reason, individuals who receive correspondence via this method claiming to be from the IRS should not respond or give out personal information, such as their Social Security number or financial information. Instead, individuals should report the email to the IRS directly, as it may be an attempt to commit fraud or identity theft.

After an individual has filed his or her taxes, safeguard these documents in a locked safe or filing cabinet to keep them organized and prevent theft or loss.

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Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of the tax information provided in this blog. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional tax advice based on your individual needs.

About Liberty Tax Service 
Liberty Tax Service is the fastest -growing retail tax preparation company in the industry’s history.  Founded in 1997 by CEO John T. Hewitt, a pioneer in the tax industry, Liberty Tax Service has prepared over 8,000,000 individual income tax returns.  With 42 years of tax industry experience, Hewitt stands as the most experienced CEO in the tax preparation business, having also founded Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.   

Liberty Tax Service is the only tax franchise on the Forbes “Top 20 Franchises to Start,” and ranks #1 of the tax franchises on the Entrepreneur “Franchise 500.” Each office provides computerized income tax preparation, electronic filing, and online filing through eSmart Tax.
Posted To: Tax Ranger's Blog By: Tax Ranger On: Monday, January 16, 2012
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