ALBANY — The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Monday shared five ways for taxpayers to protect their private information online.
The effort to help safeguard sensitive data coincides with National Tax Security Awareness Week, which runs through Dec. 7.
Taxpayers contact the Tax Department year-round to report fraud and identity theft. These simple steps can help taxpayers protect their tax information online, avoid identity theft, and prevent tax fraud and related crimes.
1. Protect your computer: When accessing your financial accounts online, look for https (with an s after the http) in the website address to verify that it’s a secure address.
2. Use strong passwords: Use long phrases, or a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols when creating a new password. Don’t use your name, birthdate, or common words. Use a different password for each of your accounts. If possible, use two-factor authentication.
3. Use secure wireless networks: Always encrypt your wireless network with a strong password. Never access your personal accounts on a public Wi-Fi network.
4. Review bank accounts and statements: Check your credit card and banking statements regularly to spot any suspicious activity. Also, don’t immediately toss out mail from unfamiliar credit card companies or retail outlets; first, make sure an identity thief didn’t open an account using your personal information.
5. 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. This can be a sign that a thief is using your personal information.
Bonus tip: Be careful what you post on social media. The information and photos you share — 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.