Many forms of identity theft crimes are well known like thieves running up credit card bills of victims or using their online checking accounts for fraudulent purchases and unfortunately identity theft remains a serious issue in the United States. It doesn’t end at just credit cards or online banking accounts either; thieves can also hack into your personal information – such as your birthdate, address and social security number – taking out personal loans in your name and pocketing those loans while you’re stuck with making those payments.

The problem stems from using multiple technology platforms. The more you use technology, the greater the chances are for you to become a victim of identity theft. And if you file your taxes online, you’re potentially increasing the opportunity for hackers and scammers to gain access to your personal information. And then you have tax-related identity theft, which is when criminals use your personal information, file a tax return in your name and ultimately stealing your refund. So, what exactly can you do to help avoid this?

Below are 7 steps for filing taxes online:

1) Get an IP Pin: have you ever filed a tax return only to find that someone else has filed a return in your name? An IP Pin can help prevent this identity theft! This is designed to make it more difficult for scammers to file false tax returns in the name of other taxpayers. This pin usually consists of a six-digit number that you will submit when filing your return.

2) Install Security Software: run antivirus software on all of your devices because if they’re not protected, cybercriminals could take advantage of vulnerabilities and access your personal information. And make sure to allow your system to allow automatic updates!

3) Avoid Public WIFI: it’s better to avoid public WIFI because this is a hotspot for hackers to access. Hackers can spy on your keystrokes and learn your passwords. That being said, once they have that information, it becomes free range for them to access your bank and/or credit card accounts.

4) Use a VPN: a virtual public network, or VPN, is a key took to maintain safety and privacy while you’re online. How does it work? First, you will connect to your VPN before logging onto the internet and then the VPN acts as a tunnel that will encrypt any data you send/receive.

5) Back up your data: the best protection against these malicious attacks is to back up your data on an external drive or cloud account. This is especially important for when you’re filing those taxes online too.

6) Create STRONG passwords: this may be old advice, but it holds true. Always use unique/strong passwords at any important financial or personal sites. It’s more difficult for hackers to figure out passwords that have symbols, numbers, uppercase/lowercase letters in them.

7) Use two-factor authentication: when using an online service to file taxes, using a two-factor authentication is necessary to ensure not getting hacked into because not only does it require a log-in and password initially, but also a secret code number.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t file your taxes online. Filing online is convenient and you can eliminate many of the hassles of filing income tax returns. The great news is that you can take precautions to protect yourself against identity theft crimes while enjoying the convenience of filing those pesky taxes online! Following these steps above will help keep your personal and financial information private when filing taxes!