Tax season is almost here, and it is time for you to start thinking about how you will be submitting your income tax declaration. There are several ways for you to prepare and give your documents to the IRS, from having a professional accountant do it for you to completing and submitting the documents yourself or using special software.
Before you choose this route, you need to consider the security status of your computer system. How do you know if it’s safe to share your private and sensitive financial information with a software program? Let us help educate you on the signs of a compromised computer.
Check your device
Firstly, before you install any tax software on your computer, you need to make sure that the computer is not infected with viruses, malware or spyware. Here is a list of behaviors that may indicate your computer is compromised with spyware:
- Your computer suddenly operates very slowly when opening applications;
- Random pop-up messages appear while you are on the Internet. No matter what you do, the messages continue to pop-up;
- An unknown toolbar suddenly populates your web browser;
- The homepage on your web browser now directs you to a completely different website;
- The search engine in your web browser has switched to a different service;
- Odd error messages pop-up unexpectedly and do not make any sense at all.
How do you prevent becoming a victim of Spyware? Here are a few security tips for you to keep in mind:
- Do not click on any suspicious links within unsolicited emails from people you do not know. If you receive an email that looks like it originated from a legit source (like your bank) but you still find suspicious; do not click the link. Instead, access the site from a bookmark or through a web address that you know is valid. Another trick is to hover your mouse pointer over the web link and if the highlighted link is different from the one within the email body, something is wrong!
- Do not input any information into any unexpected pop-up windows. Close these windows and move on.
- Only download programs on the Internet from reputable sources. Sometimes ‘free’ software comes with a spyware price tag.
- One last suggestion is to create a separate user profile on your computer that doesn’t have administrative rights to install software or make any system changes. This way, when you use this profile to visit the Internet, it’s incapable of installing malicious software in the event that it gets compromised.
And the last one
Now that you’re alert to what kind of suspicious activities can affect your laptop during tax season, let us know if you’re experiencing any of these issues. We here at LaptopMD are happy to help you safely submit your taxes this tax season.