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Protecting Your Tax Information While Traveling: Essential Tips

Sharissa Barnett May 1, 2024 10:21:17 AM
women standing with tax documents

Even though technology has made traveling much easier, it’s with no doubt that travelers are subject to cybercrime. This is because traveling puts you in a new environment where you often have less control over your surroundings, including your digital environment. Because of this, cybercriminals take advantage of these circumstances, especially during tax season, when personal information is more likely to be exposed over the internet.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to take precautions when filing your taxes to protect yourself from identity and financial theft. Continue reading to understand how you can stay safe and ensure your information is secure while on the move.

Digitize your tax files

Traveling with a pile of physical documents can be very tiring. Not only will you be at risk of losing them, but you will also risk having them fall into the wrong hands. Thus, before you begin your journey you can opt for paperless solutions, scan all vital tax documents and store them securely in encrypted files on your electronic devices.

You can also opt to store the digital copies on cloud storage platforms with robust security measures. This offers you document security, proper document management and remote access to all your documents from anywhere in the world without the worry of losing sensitive financial information.

Keep off public Wi-Fi network

Public Wi-Fi connections are always appealing to most travelers as they offer an easy and convenient way to connect to the internet.  Unfortunately, these free wi-fi connections put users at a higher risk of a cyber-attack since they are not secure. With the fact that everyone can access these networks, cybercriminals can easily access any of the devices that are connected to them.

If it is of great necessity to use a public Wi-Fi network, avoid logging into personal accounts (like your bank or tax account) or sending sensitive information like your taxes. You’re better off conducting these tasks on a secure connection. If possible, make sure you are using a VPN for data protection.

Maximize on encryption software

Encryption is crucial in protecting sensitive information in instances where your mobile device is lost, stolen or confiscated. While many operating systems offer built-in encryption tools, you can use third-party encryption software, such as Qbox, for data protection. Encryption involves scrambling your data and making it not eligible to unauthorized parties.

Without proper encryption, your tax-related data can be transmitted in plain text, making it more vulnerable to data interception. Because of this, your tax information might be exposed to hackers. If you are sending sensitive financial information, one of the best practices is to encrypt the content of your emails, this guarantees document security and data protection and thus  your tax information remains confidential when being transmitted.

 Secure your electronic devices

Portable gadgets like smartphones, laptops and tablets can easily be stolen or get lost while on a journey. This can result in exposure of contact details and financial information. To be on the safe side, make sure that all your devices are password protected and have some form of authentication for each device, like fingerprint or face recognition, for added security.

Come up with strong and unique passwords for all your online tax accounts. Avoid using the same password for multiple logins.  Also avoid using personal information such as date of birth as your password, as it makes it easier for cyber criminals to crack your password. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever it’s available since it adds an extra layer of security to your accounts.

Update your software more often

data protection type writer printed update

Make sure that you have updated your software to the latest versions before you start your journey. This ensures that all your software, including tax preparation software, operating systems and anti-virus programs, are up to date with the latest security patches to safeguard against potential threats. Bear in mind that outdated software may have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to access personal information.

Although most devices are programmed to auto-update once connected to a Wi-Fi network, confirm that you’ve disabled this feature before leaving for your trip. This gives you more protection as it prevents any software updates over public networks, giving you a chance to maintain more control over your device and minimize unauthorized access.

Be familiar with phishing scams

Cybercriminals often pose as a legitimate organization or tax authority to trick you into giving up crucial information. They send phishing messages that take the form of an email, text or phone call asking you to verify important information about your taxes and other financial matters.  A phishing scam can be in the form of an email or text that creates a strong sense of urgency or threats that require you to take immediate action.

It is very important to understand that the IRS and other government bodies will never send you an email or text or threaten you for your personal information. These agencies usually contact their customers through regular mail. Furthermore, if you file your taxes early it can help reduce the chances of a cyber-criminal using your personal information to file a deceitful return.

Backup your data regularly

Make sure you regularly backup your digital tax documents to various secure locations, such as a trusted cloud storage service. This gives you the guarantee of data protection ,document security and also having access to crucial data in case your device is lost or damaged. 

Give consideration also to creating backups on external hard drives or encrypted flash drives for your tax documents. This provides you with data protection and document security ensuring that you always have a copy of your documents.

Qbox offers its users data protection, document security and high-end data backup solutions, that help you recover your important files quickly and get back to your activities. In addition to backing up your files, this software solution reminds you to back up your files in case you forget to.

Secure file sharing

When sending tax documents, ensure that you use secure file sharing services. These services, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, offer encryption and authentication features, making it easy to upload documents and share them with approved recipients thus providing outstanding data protection and document security.

In addition the services also provide a secure link for downloading files, making them convenient for both senders and receivers. End-to-end encryption ensures your files remain secure the entire transmission process guaranteeing document security.

Compliance regulations

Compliance regulations with symbols

Certain regulatory and legal consequences can apply when transmitting sensitive tax documents over unsecured channels. Most compliance regulations including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in the financial sector and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), require data protection and document security.

If you fail to comply with these regulations you can attract fines and legal action. The IRS also has strict guidelines for protecting tax information, and refusing to comply can lead to penalties. Ensure that you take these measures into account before you share your tax information online. This fosters secure communication and demonstrates your commitment to following these regulations.

Install secure anti-virus software

One of the crucial tools that helps in safeguarding your devices all the time is anti-virus software. It is a security program that is designed to identify and block viruses that may slow down or crash your device.

Before embarking on your voyage, consider installing anti-virus software on your device. Also make sure that the software is up to date. This helps to protect your devices from malware and data from being compromised. However, note that anti-virus software alone does not protect against all threats. It is more effective when combined with good security habits and practices.

Bottom line

Tax season is one of the prime times for cybercriminals to target taxpayers. Those especially who are traveling during this time often fall victim to online identity and financial theft. Luckily, you can be on the safe side by ensuring that your documents are stored digitally, avoiding using public networks, maximizing cloud storage services and looking out for phishing messages. With this in mind, you can minimize the risk of financial fraud or loss of personal information while on the go.

As a taxpayer, filling your taxes when on the move does not have to be stressful! Settling for  a secure cloud storage service like Qbox, you can easily upload tax documents, store files securely, organize and access them all in one place. No matter where you are, Qbox software makes it easy to get your taxes done in no time.

Sign up for Qbox today and get your 30-day trial for free!

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