Tax time

Protect yourself from scams

Tax season is here, and that means cyberattacks and scams are in full force.

Because vast amounts of valuable personal and financial information are shared online during tax season, this time of year is a cybercriminal’s dream come true.

To protect yourself, here are five easy-to-follow tips to avoid scams and file securely this year:

• File early. Criminals can file fraudulent tax returns using your stolen personal information. One of the best defenses is to file before they do.

• Think before you click. Beware of emails, text messages and social media posts that claim to be from the IRS and contain links or attachments. Cybercriminals may try to install malware onto your computer to steal your information.

• Set strong passphrases. If you file your taxes online, protect your information by using a passphrase that contains uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.

• Use secure connections. Criminals can use public Wi-Fi or weak networks to intercept your information.

• Beware of phony calls. The IRS will never ask for credit or debit card information, demand immediate payment or threaten legal action in a cold call.

If you believe you are a victim of tax fraud, contact the IRS.

For additional cybersecurity information, check out the CyberSafe at USPS sites on Blue, LiteBlue and