Security Measures to Stay Protected

The holiday season is in full swing and tax season is just around the corner. Both come with a certain amount of risk when it comes to fraud and scams, especially as the pandemic still lingers. Whether you’re shopping for gifts or preparing financial statements and reports, it’s important to take measures to ensure your information is well-protected.

Beware of Scams and Fraud

To stay secure, you should first educate yourself on the tips and tricks criminals utilize when they’re on the hunt for your sensitive personal or financial information.

Many people are turning to online shopping, but as IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said, “Don’t let this be the most wonderful time of the year for identity thieves.” As you load the shopping cart this year, be wary of whom you are giving your information to, whether it’s a deal on an online store or a giveaway post on social media. If it seems too good to be true, do some research about the seller or company before completing any orders. Learn more in the FBI’s recent article, “Holiday Scams.”

Phishing is another way scammers can try to steal sensitive information: they impersonate a trusted source, most notably through text and email. Deceptive links, spoofing, and social engineering are the main methods attackers use to deceive targets, typically utilizing more than one method at once. The most effective way to detect a phishing attempt is to approach any suspicious communication with skepticism. Check out our blog, “Tips to Avoid Virtual Attacks,” to learn more about protecting yourself against phishing.

Criminals can use a variety of methods to obtain information from a target—one phishing tactic specific to tax season to impersonate the IRS. It’s important to know the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text, or social media. Learn more about other tax-related scams here and how the IRS investigates and helps prosecute fraud here.

New Wisconsin Identity Protection PIN

To further combat fraudsters and identity thieves, the IRS now offers a program to protect taxpayers’ identities. Eligible taxpayers can request an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN), which they then must use to file their 2021 individual income tax return and homestead credit claims. Only you and the IRS will know this information.

The Wisconsin Identity Protection PIN is:

  • Seven alpha-numeric characters
  • Specific to Wisconsin returns and cannot be used on federal or other states’ returns
  • Entered in the signature section of Form 1, Form 1NPR, Schedule H, or Schedule H-EZ
  • Year-specific
    • Any Wisconsin individual income tax return or homestead credit claim filed during the calendar year will use the same PIN
      • This applies to 2021 returns and forward
    • Taxpayers who sign up for this program will receive a new IP PIN each year

To qualify, you must have:

  • A valid Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Access to a telephone
  • An adjusted gross income of $72,000 or less

Currently, to request an IP PIN the taxpayer must either file an application to be mailed or faxed to the IRS or request in-person authentication. There will also be an online Get an IP PIN tool available, which will be the fastest way to receive an IP PIN; however, this service is under planned maintenance until January 2022. Learn more about IP PINs on the IRS website.

Implement Safeguards

As technology continues to get smarter each year, so do scammers and hackers. This is why it’s vital to keep track of the security measures protecting your sensitive data.

After you learn about criminal tactics and take various security measures, you can implement safeguards to further protect your sensitive information, especially when it pertains to a business. These measures can include backup solutions, disaster recovery planning, dark web monitoring, and more.

Thanks to KerberRose’s Trusted Technology Advisors, you can rest assured your information is secure. KerberRose Technology offers all the aforementioned services and more, which can be tailored to your needs. For more information about securing your data from attackers, start a conversation at technology@kerberrose.com.