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5 Security Tips for Working Online On Your Taxes

Sam Foltz

February 17, 2016

Preparing your taxes using online services is an incredible technological convenience.  However, you must be aware of the sensitive nature of the information you are inputting, especially if you are using a computer on an open network or in a public location.

Staff at a local public library found a person’s completed tax return on the public printer last week.  Someone using the public computers had printed a copy, then forgotten it.  Potential disaster was averted.  The staff called the person to let them know.

It doesn't take long for someone to nab your personal information.  Here are five tips to consider when working online on taxes or other financial information.

1 - If you're working on your tax return in a public place -- even your office -- never leave your PC or mobile device unattended.  It only takes a few seconds for someone to snap a photo of your screen, walk off with your device, or copy down your personal information.

2 - Create unique login credentials (usernames and passwords) for each financial account.  Take the time and trouble to make financial account passwords strong and complex.  

3 - Keep a copy of your financial passwords where you store your locked financial records.

4 - Protect yourself by using a virtual private network (VPN) when you’re using public wi-fi, hotspots as those in libraries, coffee shops and hotels.

5 - If the printer is not right next to you, email a copy to yourself.  In the time it takes to walk to a printer down the hall or in another room, someone could walk off with your information.  You’ll also prevent forgetting it.

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