Like it or not, it's that time of year again: tax season, also known as a cyber criminal's holy grail. There's a reason why tax season is one of the busiest periods for cyber crime - it's an opportunity for cirminals to steal tonnes of personal information and critical data.
If you're filing your taxes online this year, here are some things you can do to protect yourself from identity and financial theft.
76 % of Canadians are concerned about identity theft.Note i
Protect your identity
Your tax data is a gold mine for cyber criminals. Your taxes contain all of the information they need to steal your identity - like your social insurance number (SIN), your record of employment, your family status and even your bank account information.
You can protect yourself by:
- creating a strong, unique passphrase or password for each of your tax accounts (image of file folder with password field and password CatJacketChargerShelf1!)
- enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever it's available (image of file folder with password field hierarchy tree)
29% of Canadians still use the default password on their home Wi-Fi networks. Note i
File your taxes on a secure network
(image of crossed out "free Wi-Fi" icon)
Public Wi-Fi connections that don't require passwords, like your local library or coffee shop, are risky. You should never access personal accounts or send sensitive information, like your taxes, while using unsecured networks. Save these tasks for when you have a secure connection. If you need to use a public Wi-Fi network, make sure you're using a VPN so that you can protect your private information.
You can file your taxes safely by:
- only filing on a secure network, like your home Wi-Fi (image of laptop with Wi-Fi symbol surrounded by a house on screen)
- using a VPN to protect sensitive information (image of laptop with VPN shield symbol on screen)
- enabling your firewall (image of laptop with a brick wall on fire on screen)
- not accessing sensitive info on public Wi-Fi unless using a VPN (image of laptop with hand holding document with password field, lock, and VPN shield on screen)
- updating your home network's username and passwords from the default settings (image of laptop with, on screen, window named "Your home network" with "old password" and "new password" fields)
3 in 10 Canadians are concerned about phishing scams.Note i
Be on the lookout for phishing attacks
Cyber criminals will often impersonate legitimate organizations or individuals to steal your information. These phishing attempts are harder to spot during tax season when you might think that the CRA is contacting you.
You can identify phishing scams by looking out for some common red flags:
- email or texts that have spelling or grammar mistakes (image of an email with body text "Hello USER, Sumthing is rong! Click here 2 fix ur computeR.:)")
- poor formatting, or blurry logos and images (image of blurry GetCyberSafe.ca logo, with crossed out circle next to it, and below, clear GetCyberSafe.ca logo, with checkmark next to it)
- suspicious links or attachments (image of hand holding paperclip above window with document icon named "NOT_malware.docx")
- email addresses that are suspicious or don't match the organization they claim to be from (image of email to "you" from "email@example.com", with body text "Hello USER, We are now taking rent payments here. Click button below. :)" and button labelled "Pay Here")
Not sure if it's really the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)? Learn what to expect if the CRA contacts you by visiting their official website.
45% of Canadians set their devices to update automatically.Note i
Update your devices as a defence
Software updates aren't just for new features. They also come with critical patches, bug fixes and security updates. Ensuring your devices are up to date could help you fight off a cyber attack.
You can secure your software by:
- setting your devices to run updates automatically (image of update loading window)
- regularly updating your anti-virus software (image of antivirus shield-with-lock icon)
- updating your software as soon as the update is available (image of query field saying "Updates Ready to Install", with buttons "Install" and "Later", with cursor hovering over "Install")
Get more tips to protect yourself and your devices at GetCyberSafe.ca
Get Cyber Safe Awareness Tracking Survey, EKOS, 2020
Catalogue number: D96-35/2021E-PDF | ISBN: 978-0-660-37999-9