Is Your Personal and Financial Information Safe When Filing Taxes Online?

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Anonymizer, Inc. Offers E-File Safety Tips As April 18 Filing Deadline Approaches

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E-filing is the quickest way to beat the April 18 deadline, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise the security of your personal and financial data.

According to the IRS, 98.7 million people across the U.S. filed their taxes electronically in 2010, which is nearly 70 percent of the total 141.5 million returns that were filed. Despite the increase in using e-file, consumers are still concerned about the safety of their personal information. In a March 2011 poll conducted by Taxsoftware.com, almost half of those surveyed expressed concern that their personal and financial information would not be kept private and secure if they file their state and federal tax returns on the Internet.

With the deadline to file tax returns quickly approaching, Anonymizer Inc., http://www.anonymizer.com, the leader in consumer online anonymity solutions, has developed some quick tips to help ensure consumers’ personal and financial information are protected when preparing and filing returns online.

  • Only use IRS-approved tax software such as TurboTax or H&R Block At Home to prepare and file returns. The IRS also offers Free File, which allows anyone filing Form 1040 series tax returns to file for free. With IRS-approved programs, returns filed online are transmitted through secure electronic channels. Added bonus: as part of the delivery process, the IRS automatically checks returns for mistakes and if there’s an easy fix, such as a math error or an incorrect social security number, the return is immediately sent back for correction. This saves time and keeps a simple mistake from holding up a refund.
  • IRS-authorized software providers take great care to ensure returns are sent through encrypted and secure channels. However, if you’re using an unsecured wireless connection to prepare and file online, your personal information is still vulnerable. Give yourself an extra layer of protection when using wireless connections by using a product like Anonymizer Universal, http://www.anonymizer.com/universal, which keeps activities over Wi-Fi connections safe from monitoring by eavesdroppers and criminals.
  • Planning to hire a professional tax preparer to file your return? Make sure your tax preparer is an IRS-authorized e-file provider by going to IRS.gov to find authorized providers. It’s also worth noting that a new law now requires many paid tax return preparers to electronically file federal income tax returns prepared and filed for individuals, trusts and estates.
  • Beware of emails that ask for personal or financial information from entities claiming to be the IRS. In an attempt to steal personal information, many scammers will use the IRS name, logo or website, but according to IRS.gov, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via unsolicited email nor does it use email to discuss tax account matters. In addition, the IRS will never ask for personal identifying or financial information in email.

Never open attachments or click on link in suspicious emails. Instead, forward the email or URL to phishing@irs.gov then delete the email. The IRS can also be reached at 1-800-829-1040 to confirm whether the IRS is really trying to make contact.

“E-filing is the quickest way to beat the April 18 deadline, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise the security of your personal and financial data,” said Chaminda Wijetilleke, Vice President of Consumer Products for Anonymizer, Inc. “The IRS has mandated new security and privacy standards to help protect tax payers’ information, but if you file taxes online, you should still take precautions to ensure your personal information is secure before it even gets to the IRS.”

About Anonymizer

As the global leader in online privacy, anonymity, and identity protection solutions, Anonymizer continues to push the envelope with products that allow consumers and organizations to remain safe, secure, and anonymous each time they go online. The company’s proprietary technologies address the needs of home users, businesses and other customers. With a pristine 15-year history of protecting customer online identities, Anonymizer’s products have set the standard in Internet privacy, and protected billions of web searches and personal communications. To learn more, visit us at http://www.anonymizer.com, follow us on Twitter, http://www.twitter.com/Anonymizer, or like us on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/anonymizer.

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Jaymelina Esmele

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