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(ARA) – It’s tax season again, and more than ever, taxpayers are turning to technology to help complete and file their tax returns. Completing forms provided online and submitting them electronically can make the job faster, easier and less complicated, but during tax season, as throughout the year, it is important to follow basic online safety practices to protect your data.

Cybercriminals love tax season. Whether pushing out scam e-mails purportedly from the Internal Revenue Service with attachments containing malicious software, or using key loggers or other techniques to capture your personal and financial information while on the Internet, online criminals know how to make the most of this opportunity.

You can e-file with confidence, however, when you follow some important security steps:

  • Use tax services only from trusted companies. At, you can search by ZIP code for tax preparers in your area who are certified to e-file your return on your behalf. You can also find a list of free online software companies that can help you e-file on your own.
  • When e-filing or preparing your taxes online, use strong passwords to protect your privacy. Avoid obvious passwords like your child’s name and birth date. Strong passwords should be more than eight digits in length and include a combination of letters, numbers and, if possible, special characters.
  • Never provide identifying information or account numbers to unknown sources. For example, never respond to an unsolicited e-mail or online advertisement that offers to prepare your taxes and asks for your Social Security number or bank account number.
  • Use security software such as Microsoft Security Essentials, which requires no registration, trials or renewals and helps protect PCs against viruses, spyware and other malicious threats.

  • Use a modern browser, such as Windows Internet Explorer 8, that provides important security tools. Internet Explorer helps protect users against malware and phishing scams. Its SmartScreen Filter has blocked more than 560 million attempts to download malware, and since the Windows Internet Explorer 7 Phishing Filter was introduced in 2005, Microsoft Reputation Services has processed over 5.7 trillion requests to block malicious phishing Web sites. Log on to to learn more.

  • Think before you click. Even if you know the sender, pause before you open attachments or click on links in e-mail or Windows Live Messenger; they could be phony. Confirm with the sender that the message is real or visit the official Web site by typing the address yourself. And always be wary of clicking links or buttons in pop-up windows.

To learn more about online security this tax season, go to

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
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