This year, National Tax Security Awareness Week was November 29 through December 3. Let’s go through some of the highlights.
What is National Tax Security Awareness Week?
Before we get into the details, you might be wondering: what is National Tax Security Awareness Week?
In 2015, the IRS held a summit that called for public and private tax and administration leaders to come together to promote best practices for combating tax-related identity theft. Since then, the IRS and Security Summit partners dedicate one week per year to sharing knowledge and insights about how to protect your personal and business tax information, as well as top security tips for storing sensitive information and recognizing threats.
The first few years’ worth of tips can be found here. Keep reading to learn about the insights shared during the 2021 National Tax Security Awareness Week.
Protecting Against Tax-Related Identity Theft & More
This year, like always, the IRS shared a ton of great tips and insights that both speak to the current state of security and also offer a path forward. The first thing they shared was a video describing the new IP PIN, an optional extra layer of security for information shared between you and the IRS.
The IRS then talked about 10 key steps for protecting sensitive information. We’ve included our favorites here:
- “Phishing scams – like imposter emails, calls and texts — are the No. 1 way thieves steal personal data. This year, fraud scams related to COVID-19, Economic Impact Payments and other tax law changes are common.”
- Only use websites with addresses beginning in “https” – the “s” is for secure communications.
- With the major shift in employees working from home, a VPN (virtual private network) is the best way to create a secure connection between your home and work networks.
Beware of Fake Charities
The second day of National Tax Security Awareness Week fell on Giving Tuesday, which gave the IRS a great opportunity to talk about fake charities. The holidays are a time when many people and businesses do a lot more donating to charitable causes and organizations, and the best way to ensure that a charity is legitimate is to use the Tax Exempt Organization Search Tool on the IRS website.
As for best practices when it comes to giving charitably, you should never let a caller pressure you or your business into giving money to their cause, especially if you are unfamiliar with the organization or have never heard a specific charity’s name before. Always do your research, by looking through the organization’s website, social media accounts, and of course checking with the tool we mentioned above. And be careful how you donate too. If a charity is asking you to donate via gift card or wire transfer, chances are, it’s a fake charity. The safest way to pay is by credit card or check.
For more insights from National Tax Security Awareness Week, check out the IRS News Release and Fact Sheet Archive articles from November 29 through December 3, 2021.
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