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In Our 24/7 Economy, Web Safety Requires 24/7 Diligence

Fortunately – or perhaps, unfortunately –almost no limit exists to what we can do online…including becoming victims of theft.

While we usually think of someone stealing our credit card information during an online purchase, identity theft cases involving fraudulent individual and business tax returns continues to rise.

The IRS offers tips to help keep your identity and private tax information safe:

  • Use pre-installed security software—and remember to keep automatic updates turned on so the program remains up-to-date. Depending on your needs, you may also want to invest in stronger protection software such as encryption software.
  • Ensure your network is secure. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) networks will help keep you safe from a variety of viruses, malware and financial accounting vulnerabilities. Setting passwords on your devices and network is an easy precaution that keeps unwanted parties from gaining access to your personal financial information.
  • Educate your children about internet safety to keep them from malicious websites. Children—and some adults!—should be aware of hidden dangers in opening emails, documents and web pages they don’t know or trust. Setting parental controls goes a long way toward preventing children from accessing malicious or inappropriate websites.
  • Avoid downloading anything from suspicious sources, including pop-up ads that claim to detect a virus on your computer.
  • Be your own financial manager: review financial statements frequently, including credit card statements, to detect unauthorized charges or withdrawals.

In the end, trust your instincts. If the site seems suspicious, don’t click on the links or make the purchase. For more details about what you can do to protect yourself visit Taxes.Security.Together.

If you become a victim of identity fraud, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.gov. Also, contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place an alert on your records (www.Equifax.com, www.Experian.com, or www.TransUnion.com) and contact your financial institutions.

Additionally, if you suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, file Form 14039, identity theft affidavit.

For assistance with accounting services, including business, nonprofit, or personal tax returns, the certified public accountants at Patrick & Robinson CPAs can help. Contact us at office@CPAsite.com or (904) 396-5400.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q.

Are there any benefits to filing early? And what happens if I file after the deadline?

A.

Filing before April can make your tax refund come back faster, but filing too close to the deadline could cost you money.

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