It is this time of year again, when we buck up to file our end of the year income tax returns. People usually find the whole paperwork quite over-whelming.
One of the major benefits of filing your income tax returns online is that you can file your returns at the comfort of your desk, and time without sweating yourself and your pens out on papers and income tax department trips. Another advantage is that you can have your personal security and safety in the confines of your comfort zone, rather than other people peeping on what your tax returns have to say.
Nevertheless, there are certain factors which need to be taken care of while using an online system to file your tax returns. The ease with which it facilitates your work, can work both ways – in favor as well as against you. There are certain tips you need to be aware of, in order to protect your personal information online. With the increase in identity theft rates, one has to remain even more vigilant while filing his tax returns online.
Below are certain tips and safety measures, which can secure your online tax return filing process:
1) Avoid clicking on Web Links:
Web links, especially the ones that get featured in an email, may be a part of phishing scam. These web links take you to a web page which looks like a genuine web site and can further prompt you to enter your sensitive personal information like SSN, PAN, credit card and bank account numbers etc., so that they can use this information for their own benefits. Whenever you are filing your taxes online, always log in to the website independently by manually entering the link into the web browser, instead of clicking on a link.
2) Check for the Green Address Bar:
It is really important to ensure that you are working on the correct and authentic site, while entering your information to file your taxes. One of the easiest way to check this is to see if the address bar is green or not. Green address bar denotes that the website is authentic and verified by genuine verifiers.
3) Site Encryption:
You need to ensure that you enter your personal data in a secured session. How can you check this? Well, just look at the web address of the page. If it has an ‘https://’ instead of ‘http://’, then it means that there is an encrypted connection between your browser and the website’s server. This way you can rest assured that your data and all the transactions are secured and can not be intercepted by anyone.
4) Terminating the session:
Whenever you are done with your work on filing the tax returns, always make it sure to properly log out of the session. Many people have a tendency to simply close the browser window, instead of logging out. Try to avoid this as much as you can. Every time you log out from your session, you get a message on the browser, stating “Please wait, while you are being logged out”, or something like that. Always wait for the confirmation that “You are logged out”, before you close the browser window. If you don’t log out properly, fraudsters can log into your session (especially when you are using a shared computer) and access your site and data.
5) Avoid Fax at all costs:
Never respond to any tax issues or queries using fax. Even if you receive an email, requesting you to fax your personal data back to the “Income Tax Department”, just ensure to verify this from the department. Ideally, no Income tax department would ever request your personal information via fax, so this might be an email scam.
Technologies and advancements are made to facilitate our jobs for our convenience, but we need to be aware of proper usage and measures that can assure our safety and security as well. So, educate yourself about various steps needed while dealing with such matters, especially related to money and stay safe.