Protect Your Sensitive Information and Tax Refund

Follow tips from the Tax Department, the New York State Office of Information Technology Services, and the Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection
Monday, March 14, 2022

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, along with the New York State Office of Information Technology Services and the Department of State's Division of Consumer Protection, shared important tips to help New York taxpayers block identity thieves and tax fraudsters.

Tips to prevent identity theft and fraud

File promptly using e-file and direct deposit of your tax refund. Filing your tax returns as soon as possible can reduce the likelihood that an identity thief will be able to claim a fraudulent tax refund using your stolen information. Filing electronically is also safer, faster, and more efficient than sending paper returns through the mail.

Taxpayers with income of $73,000 or less in 2021 can electronically complete and submit their federal and New York State income tax returns online at no cost. Free File software allows you to file from home, which eliminates the need to carry sensitive data outside a safe location.

Visit the Tax Department website, www.tax.ny.gov, to review different Free File options. Simply click Free File your income tax return on the Tax Department home page.

By choosing direct deposit for your tax refund, you'll receive it up to two weeks sooner rather than having it mailed as a paper check.

Protect data and documents used to prepare your return. Keep sensitive personal information and documents safe during and after the filing process and delete or shred once no longer needed.

Be wary of unsolicited emails and telephone calls asking for personal information. Never share personal information, such as your Social Security number, in response to an unsolicited email or telephone call. If the email or call claims to be from a company with which you do business, call it first to confirm the contact is legitimate. Scammers will also use scare tactics and threats related to tax debt to get you to share your personal and financial information.

Use strong passwords. Create different passwords for all your accounts.  When it comes to passwords, the longer the better - 14 characters is the current industry standard. Use a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols.  Consider passphrases, where you use the first letters of a memorable phrase to create a complex password that is difficult to guess. Regularly change your passwords/passphrases.

It's important to regularly review the steps necessary to secure your sensitive information.

New York State Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Amanda Hiller said, "It's critical you take proper precautions to safeguard confidential data now and throughout the year. Identity thieves are counting on you to slip up so they can steal your personal information. By following these tips, you can help prevent yourself from becoming a victim."

New York State Office of Information Technology Services Chief Information Officer Angelo 'Tony' Riddick said, "Under Governor Kathy Hochul's leadership, New York State has taken important steps to enhance online security by safeguarding personal information, minimizing risk, and providing taxpayers with the tools they need to help protect themselves from cybercriminals. Tax season brings greater risks to individuals and families as cybercriminals look to exploit online information for deceptive purposes. Use these simple tips to protect your sensitive information and stay vigilant against any and all potential tax scams."

New York State Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "This tax season, I encourage all New Yorkers to be extra vigilant in protecting their online accounts and personal information to prevent data theft. Taxpayers should follow these basic tips to keep their accounts safe."

Report it

If you're a victim or believe you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft, alert us immediately. We will track your information to help keep it private and protected. Visit the Tax Department's Report fraud, scams, and identity theft webpage.

Access more resources from the Office of Information Technology Services NYS Chief Information Security Office webpage.

For more taxpayer scam information, please also visit the Division of Consumer Protection's Taxpayer Scam webpage. For additional identity theft prevention and mitigation resources, call the Consumer Helpline at 800-697-1220 or visit the Division's Identity Theft Prevention and Mitigation Program webpage.

About ITS

The New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) was created in 2012 to transform IT services in an effort to make New York State government work smarter for its citizens and enable the state to be accessible for businesses through the use of technology. ITS provides statewide IT strategic direction, directs IT policy and delivers centralized IT products and services that support the mission of the State. ITS operates data centers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to support statewide mission-critical applications for over 50 Agencies, over 17 million citizen accounts, 120,000 employee accounts, 60,000 phones, 99,000 desktops and laptops, and 3,433 Virtual Desktop remote connections. ITS operates a secure network of over 1,600 miles of fiber to deliver telecommunications, Internet and Intranet services, enterprise email systems and support, IT training, networking, data storage and processing to State government entities in addition to developing new services in support of citizens, businesses and State Agencies.

For more information, visit https://its.ny.gov and follow us on Twitter @nysits.

###