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How to Protect Your Personal Information Online During Tax Season

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Technology has a significant impact on how individuals safeguard and protect information. There are innovative ways that have been shown to help preserve information. However, there appears to be a constant effort to try and develop better ways to keep sensitive information secret and confidential as hackers and identity thieves discover new ways to access personal data. Some people will go to the required lengths to safeguard their information. Others may not be aware of the risk involved, in which case they run the chance of becoming easy victims.

The protection of the privacy and confidentiality of taxpayer information is one of the primary concerns of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). A robust privacy and security framework is in place to handle and secure personal information for all Canadians since the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) processes more than 28 million individual income tax returns each year. There are several measures you may take to protect your personal information since maintaining the privacy of information is a shared duty.

How to prevent yourself from falling into to scammers trap: 

1. Canadians should know the tactics of scammers

One of the most important things every Canadian should know when protecting their personal information is to use secure and strong passwords. Over the past several years, Canadians have experienced an increase in internet fraud and robocalls posing as coming from federal agencies like the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Furthermore, these scammers frequently intimidate clients with impending arrests or legal action before requesting a long list of personal data, including social security numbers. The reason why CRA is taking security and scammer issues seriously is that, over the past several years, Canadians have experienced an increase in internet fraud and robocalls posing as coming from federal agencies like the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

According to data the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center released to CTVNews.ca, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scams cost Canadians more than $1.4 million in 2019, In reality, the CAFC has identified 34 cases of successful CRA fraud as of Feb. 2, costing customers over $10,000 in total.

Particularly with regard to online fraud, the CRA states that it would never:

  • Request gift cards or prepaid credit cards.
  • e-transfer or bitcoin payment collection or distribution.
  • Unless you have phoned the CRA to request a form or a link for information, do not send an email with a link that requests that you disclose personal or financial information. In this instance, a CRA representative would provide you with the information in an email during the conversation.

Particularly with regard to online fraud, the CRA states that it would do these :

  • To verify your identification, the CRA may need to know some of your details, such as your address or social security number, which we may ask you to confirm.
  • Call to inquire about a payment plan or to demand full payment.
  • Obtain financial evidence to prove your ability to pay.
  • Make a payment request for a tax debt using one of the CRA’s available payment methods.
  • After making several fruitless attempts to reach the taxpayer, sending legal warning letters
  • If you don’t pay your debt, you should take legal action to retrieve the money you owe.

2. Citizens should use strong and secure passwords:

Your income tax return is filled with a tonne of very sensitive personal information, making it the ideal target for identity thieves. Christine Beauchamp, director of the Canadian Center for Cyber Security, explains in simpler words that the password connected to your tax return file should be really strong, secured, and well-maintained to protect you from any fraud or theft. 

Use a password with eight to ten characters and digits, including upper and lowercase, whether you are filing online through the CRA website or utilizing a third-party tool to assist you with your return.

3. Canadians should keep their confidential files safe and secure 

It is very important to understand that your confidential files need to be properly secured. Be careful where you keep the PDF of your return and any supporting papers while filing your taxes online.

Beauchamp advises keeping this data on a safe disc in the documents folder of your computer or, if that’s not possible, an encrypted external hard drive. On your computer, files saved on the desktop are less secure than files saved in the document folders.

These types of private records shouldn’t be kept in the cloud, according to experts.

Remember that you should not be filing your return from a public Wi-Fi connection, but rather via a secure internet connection.

Public Wi-Fi hotspots are extremely vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle attacks, which let eavesdroppers overhear and read data transactions.

What to do if you suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft

If you believe you might be a fraud victim or you believe you may have unintentionally given out personal or financial information, you may:

Call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center at 1-888-495-8501 to report any potential cases of fraud or scam, as well as your local police department, financial institution, and credit reporting agencies. You can also call or contact the CRA for individuals or for businesses to ask for the addition of enhanced security measures to your account. These precautions will guarantee that CRA contact center representatives inquire about callers’ identities using additional security questions.

Conclusion 

In this blog, we have covered how to protect your personal information online during tax season. Furthermore, we looked at how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) processes more than 28 million individual income tax returns each year. CRA has identified 34 cases of successful CRA fraud as of Feb. 2, costing customers over $10,000 in total. Canada Revenue Agency scams cost Canadians more than $1.4 million in 2019. Citizens should use strong and secure passwords for their income tax return files as they are the ideal target for identity thieves. The password connected to your tax return file should be really strong, secure, and well-maintained to protect against fraud or theft.

Use a password with eight to ten characters and digits, including upper- and lowercase, whether you are filing online through the CRA website or utilizing a third-party tool. Remember that you should not be filing your return from a public Wi-Fi connection. These types of private records shouldn’t be kept in the cloud, according to experts.

Salman Rundhawa
Salman Rundhawa
Salman Rundhawa is the founder of Filing Taxes. Salman provides valuable tax planning, accounting, and income tax preparation services in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, and Hamilton.

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