John Koskinen, Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service
Gale Garriott, Executive Director, Federation of Tax Administrators
With tax season underway and millions of families expecting refunds, the entire tax community is working together to fight back against tax-related identity theft. The time is now to protect your personal, financial and tax data online and at home, and we need your help.
Our effort to enlist the public’s help is one of many recommendations that came out of an initiative convened less than a year ago. Known as the Security Summit, this initiative resulted in an unprecedented partnership among the IRS, the states and the tax industry to make our tax systems and the 2016 tax filing season more secure.
Identity theft and the filing of fraudulent returns burst on the scene in a significant way several years ago. We’ve made major progress since then, but it’s clear that more can be done.
Through the Security Summit, we identified several new ways to help better safeguard taxpayers and their data during the 2016 filing season. We agreed on new minimum password standards, lock-out features and security questions to help prevent criminals from taking over taxpayers’ tax software accounts.
Far too many people fall prey to phone scams and phishing schemes that put sensitive data in the hands of cybercriminals. We’re urging the public to take steps to protect themselves this year. Here are a few of the most important things to do:
- Use security software to protect your computer. This includes a firewall and anti-virus protection. Encrypt any files on your computer with tax returns or sensitive data, and always remember to use strong passwords.
- Beware of phishing emails and phone scams. Identity thieves often attempt to steal names and Social Security numbers, passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account information by posing as trusted organizations that you recognize.
- Properly dispose of old tax returns and other sensitive documents by shredding documents before placing in the trash.
- Help your friends and family take steps to protect their security online. Many of us know someone unfamiliar with technology solutions like computer security software, so it’s important to spread the word.
Our central message to taxpayers this year is that we all have a role to play in protecting your data. Visit www.irs.gov/TaxesSecurityTogether to learn more.