Tax Commission News Release
Tax Commission urges public to protect personal data
BOISE, IDAHO — Nov. 19, 2015 — Taxpayers can join the fight against cybercriminals by taking a few simple steps to protect their personal and tax data online, the Idaho State Tax Commission announced today.
The Tax Commission has joined the Security Summit with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), other state tax agencies, and the private-sector tax industry to tackle tax-related identity theft.
“Criminals have access to excessive amounts of personal data, and they’re becoming more aggressive,” said Doreen Warren, the Tax Commission’s Revenue Operations division administrator and representative on the Security Summit. “They use this data to file fraudulent tax returns.”
“Security Summit members have collaborated to put tougher safeguards in place for the 2016 filing season, but we need the public’s help. We all have a role to play. We want you to be aware of the security steps you can take —online and at home — to better protect your data from cybercriminals.”
Idaho Tax Commissioner Ken Roberts made the appeal to the public today in Washington, D.C. at a news conference that included more than a dozen state tax agency executives, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, and representatives of the tax preparation and software developer industries.
Many of the new safeguards implemented by Security Summit members are invisible to taxpayers but will help the states and IRS verify the identity of the taxpayer and the validity of the tax return. There are new password standards for tax software. And, the IRS, the states, and the industry are sharing more information about identity theft schemes. (See IRS Fact Sheet 2015-23 for details.)
Warren said taxpayers can take the following steps to better protect themselves:
- When you see new questions, lockout features, and password requirements for logging into tax preparation products, feel good about it. Know that these new features are there for your protection, and that the requirements are in place for every single tax preparation company.
- Use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Use automatic updates. Encrypt your tax returns and other sensitive data. Use strong passwords.
- Beware of phishing emails. Are you expecting a message from your bank or tax software company to update your account? A link may take you to a fake website that’s designed to steal your log-on information. The attachment you open may include a program that allows a thief to get into your sensitive files.
- Protect your personal information. Treat your Social Security number, your driver’s license number, and other personal data as you would cash – don’t leave it lying around. Don’t overshare on social media.
Tax preparation businesses also can help by sharing information with clients. Tips for customers are available in a new IRS publication, Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers, and the IRS created a new resource page at www.irs.gov/taxessecuritytogether.
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