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How to safeguard your tax and financial information


The IRS and the New York Department of Taxation and Finance remind taxpayers to be vigilant against scammers and identity thieves.

Be wary of aggressive phone scams. Remember, the IRS and New York Tax Department will contact you by mail first and never threaten you over the phone or demand payment be made through Moneygram, Western Union or other wire transfers; by or using iTunes, Green Dot or other cash and gift cards.

Avoid phishing scams. Taxpayers may receive emails with authentic-looking government logos that offer assistance in settling bogus tax issues. The New York Tax Department and IRS will never request personal or financial information by email.

Use strong passwords. Don’t use your name, birth date or common words and use a different password for each of your accounts.

Use secure wireless networks. Always encrypt your wireless network with a strong password. Never access your personal accounts on a public Wi-Fi network.

Review bank accounts and statements. Check your credit card and banking statements regularly to spot any suspicious activity.

Review credit reports annually. Review each of your credit reports annually to spot any new lines of credit that you didn’t apply for or authorize.

Think before you post. The more information and photos you share with social media, including current and past addresses, or names of relatives, can provide scammers possible answers to your security questions or otherwise help them access your accounts.

Secure tax documents. Store hard copies of your federal and NYS tax returns in a safe place. Digital copies should also be saved. Shred documents that contain personal information before throwing them away.

Review and respond to all IRS and NYS Department communications. You should review and respond to all notices sent. Any unexpected correspondence can be a potential sign that your identity has been stolen. It’s important that you contact the IRS or the NYS Tax Department immediately to confirm any liabilities.

Following these guidelines may help to ensure a smooth sailing during and after tax season.

Barry Lisak is an IRS enrolled agent specializing in personal and small business taxes for 30 years. Any questions can be directed to him at 516-829-7283, or mrbarrytax@aol.com.


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