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How to Avoid Falling Victim to E-File Tax Scams

Updated: February 16, 2024

In our digital world, many people turn to the convenience of the Internet to file their taxes. In fact, according to the IRS, about 94% of returns were filed electronically in 2023. The high number of people who opt for e-filing provides scammers with yet another opportunity to steal personal information. This article will provide you with ways you can keep your personal information safe if you choose to file your tax return electronically.

What are E-File Tax Scams?

You go online to search for a tax preparation service to electronically file your tax return. You find one, but instead of landing on a legitimate site, you click on a look-alike site created by scammers. This may even mimic the look and feel of other legitimate tax preparation service websites. The fake site is set up to collect personal information that scammers can use to commit fraud and identity theft. If you enter your personal information into this impostor site, you could compromise your identity.

Person looking over their tax return and on their laptop at home
Couple looking at a laptop together

How to Avoid Falling Victim to E-File Tax Scams

So how do you avoid falling victim to e-file tax scams? First, use a secure Internet connection and never use public Wi-Fi to file your tax return. Hackers have a better chance of stealing your personal information when you’re using an unsecured network. 

Another great way to avoid e-file tax scams is to ensure that the tax service website you’re using is safe and that the website is encrypted. Look for the “https” at the start of the URL. The “s” indicates that the site is secure. You may notice that some websites only use encryption on the sign-in page, but if any part of your session isn’t encrypted, your entire account could become compromised.

Ask Your Tax Preparer Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask the tax preparer questions about their data security properties, and how they protect your sensitive information. Many online tax preparers such as TurboTax provide you with this information on their website. You can also ask your tax preparer for their tax preparer identification number. The IRS requires all paid tax preparers to have one before filing returns. 

These tips can help you stay safe this tax season, but there are still many more tax scam tactics that fraudsters are using. Be sure to Watch Out for These 5 Tax Scams that we cover in another blog. 

Question marks on a magnifying glass
Handcuffs

What to Do if You Have Fallen Victim to Tax Fraud

If you do fall victim to identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report it to the FTC, file an Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS, and get a personal recovery plan in place. Filing a report will also help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies investigate scams and bring criminals to justice.

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