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Posted: 1:46 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dangers of using wifi for tax e-filing

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RIP-OFF ALERT: If you're using online tax-prep software to file your returns, I want you to be sure you don't do it over a wifi connection. This is true when you're at home and definitely when you're in a public space like an Internet café. 

It's very easy for crooks to set up what looks like a hotspot that you think you're connecting to. But in reality, your signal is being intercepted and those same criminals gather all your usernames and passwords. (This can even happen when you see that image of a lock in the lower right-hand portion of your screen that you think means it's a secure connection.)

So when you're doing any online transactions that involve sensitive financial info, I want you hardwired into the Internet, instead of on a wifi connection. If you are hardwired, you are almost certainly going to be secure. I know it sounds like overkill to recommend that you use a hardwired connection at home, but just think about what personal info is floating around that can be compromised if you don't. Particularly if you're talking about doing your taxes!

In addition, there's another tax-related scam I need to mention to you. Beware of any e-mail contact that pretends to be from the IRS. The IRS never communicates by e-mail. Do not respond in any way whatsoever to e-mails purporting to be from the IRS.

Finally, if somebody calls you claiming they represent the IRS, you need to give some pushback. Tell them that you need to hang up and call the main number at IRS.gov to see if they're legitimately trying to reach you. At that point, you'll probably hear Mr. Buzz -- the dial tone -- on the other end of the line as that crook knows they can't scam you!

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