Americans remain apathetic about identity theft protection, according to the second annual Tax Season Risk Report, from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based CyberScout, which suggested taxpayers must still take ownership to protect their filings.
While the Internal Revenue Service took steps to reduced tax ID theft a pattern of poor practices leaves much of the public vulnerable.
Most Americans (58%) are not worried about tax fraud in spite of federal reports of 787,000 confirmed identity theft returns in 2016, totaling more than $4 billion in potential fraud.
“We’ve reached an extreme level of cybercrime where identity theft has become the third certainty in life. In tax season, it is crucial that everyone remain vigilant and on high alert to avoid tax related identity theft or phishing schemes,” Adam Levin, founder and chairman of CyberScout, formerly IDT911, and author of Swiped, said
Americans Not Worried About Tax Season ID Theft
Security firm IDT911 warns of a 154% increase in tax-related fraud cases from 2014 to 2015.
Tax season is one of the most common times for identity fraud to take place, making it even more important for consumers to take the proper safety measures, CyberScout warned.
Having a password protected Wi-Fi connection, a protected mailbox for a physical tax return to be sent, two-factor authentication for tax preparation services and an encrypted USB drive for sensitive tax documents are four of the most basic ways to protect oneself.
“In order to reduce the risk of becoming a tax identity theft victim, consumers need to follow the 3Ms: minimize their risk of exposure, monitor your accounts and your personal identity, and know how to manage the damage,” Levin noted.
“If the worst happens, victims of identity theft should turn to organizations they trust, including their insurance provider, financial services institution, or the HR department of their employer, who offer low-cost or free cyber protection services to protect and restore stolen identities.”
CyberScout also suggested consumers and tax preparers can protect themselves by visiting the federal web site on tax scam alerts to find out about the current scams and cyber-attacks.
Taxpayers, confronted with a variety of scams, should protect themselves by always using long and strong passwords; never authenticate themselves to anyone who contacts them online or by phone, since the IRS will never contact them by those methods; using direct deposit or locked mailboxes for refunds.; and monitoring and protecting personal identity on social media.