Tax season has come and gone, and we won’t have to worry about the next one for several months. But just because you’re taking a rest from taxes, that doesn’t mean potential cyber criminals are too. Cyber criminal activity is on the rise and these scammers never take a day off. They’re constantly looking to get your personal information and steal your money.
It Starts With You
Your identity is really the most valuable thing you have. But if you’re not careful, a cyber criminal can swoop in and snatch your ID right out from underneath you, so you must be vigilant. The IRS warns taxpayers about cyber criminals every year around tax time. Despite multiple warnings, thousands of people lose millions of dollars annually falling victim to cyber criminals.
Identity Thefts Are Reportedly Down
The IRS has made a lot of progress in their fight to stop these cyber crimes. According to data from the nation’s top tax agency, between 2015 and 2018, the number of reported identity theft victims dropped from 677,000 to 199,000. That’s an impressive 71 percent decrease. During that same period, the IRS reported identity theft tax returns were also down, by 54 percent, meaning fewer attempts were being made.
Follow These Steps to Stop Cyber crime
Despite this good news, the IRS says cyber criminals are getting more sophisticated. They’re now targeting tax professionals in search of your personal data. So, to stop these tax scams, the agency is recommending the following, as early as July. To help taxpayers and tax professionals stop cyber criminals from stealing their information. It all starts with a data security plan, in fact, by law all professional tax preparers must have one in place to protect their clients’ information. Here are 6 criteria the IRS says every plan should include:
- Install anti-virus software
- Configure firewalls
- Use two-factor authentication
- Backup software
- Drive encryption
- Establish an encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Additional Security Measures
In addition to implementing these measures, knowledge is another safeguard to help protect private and identity information from cyber criminals. For example, awareness of the different schemes cyber criminals use, such as ransomware and phishing emails. Also understanding how the IRS operates so you can tell when a cyber criminal is trying to pose as the IRS. Being educated and vigilant is your best bet to prevent would be cyber criminals from stealing your data.
Lastly, Relentless Perseverance
At GROCO.com, we take the safeguarding of our clients’ data very serious, and so should you. If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, report it as soon, as possible. You have to be proactive if you want to prevent cyber tax crimes. The cyber criminals won’t stop, and neither can you.