SOURCE: Europ Assistance USA

Europ Assistance USA

April 06, 2011 08:30 ET

Filing Taxes Online at the Last Minute? Don't Compromise Your Personal Information

Tips on Keeping Your Identity Secure While Filing Online From Home or on the Road

BETHESDA, MD--(Marketwire - April 6, 2011) - According to the Internal Revenue Service, 99 million tax returns were e-filed -- and 35 percent of taxpayers prepared and e-filed their federal tax returns themselves. As with any online activity, it's important for Americans to be vigilant in keeping their personal information secure. Europ Assistance USA, a provider of identity theft resolution and online data protection services, reminds Americans to pay close attention as they prepare and file their last-minute returns online this year:

  • Be sure to use a reputable online tax preparation service with strong security measures in place. Be wary of emails offering unfamiliar, often phony, services. Also take heed when typing in the URL of any online service in case you misspell the name and end up on a fraudulent site created to look like the real one.
  • Make sure your computer is free of malware like computer viruses and spyware that can steal a copy of your social security number or account passwords, like those of your bank and other financial institutions.
  • Sharing music, photos and other files is popular with many consumers, as well as sharing information on social networks. Especially when using the same personal computer for filing your return, it's imperative to not share personal information like a social security number and birth date. Better yet, prepare taxes on a different computer.
  • Never confirm your social security number or bank account details by email or over the phone.
  • The IRS never sends unsolicited e-mails asking for detailed personal information. Additionally, the IRS never asks people for PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts. Taxpayers should forward suspicious emails claiming to be from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov.
  • When keeping a copy of your tax return on the PC, make sure the file is password protected and encrypted so prying eyes can't access it.
  • If you do use an accountant, don't email tax information or returns to him or her. Email is not a secure way to send any document.
  • Once tax season is over, shred unnecessary documents and copies. Offline thieves will be on the prowl to get your banking account details and social security numbers once you're done.
  • If you're on the road and struggling to get your tax return in on time and not sure about the site you're visiting or just don't feel that your information can be submitted securely, file an extension and finish when you're in a safer environment.
  • Last, but not least, check your credit report soon after tax time and again a few months later to ensure your personal information wasn't stolen and used fraudulently.

About Europ Assistance USA
As the most experienced company in the assistance industry, Europ Assistance has been helping customers in times of crisis for more than 47 years. The company's expertise in managing the complex issues involved in identity theft, and its 24/7 team of resolution specialists, have handled thousands of cases and protected millions of customers. EA was one of the first companies to provide identity theft resolution services and today provides white label identity theft protection solutions to millions of customers on behalf of financial institutions, corporations and insurance companies. Headquartered in Bethesda, MD, EA USA is part of the Europ Assistance Group, which is owned by Global 500 insurance conglomerate Generali Group.

Contact Information