Users who let down their guard during the rush to get their taxes done are susceptible to scams. File Photo: IOL
CAPE TOWN – Tax-filing season presents a window of opportunity for online scam artists. Sensitive financial data is everywhere: tax returns filed online, taxpayers accessing banking and investment information, and personal financial records sitting on hard drives.

Users who let down their guard during the rush to get their taxes done are susceptible to scams, says Carey van Vlaanderen, the chief executive at ESET Southern Africa.

Van Vlaanderen offers tips on how to keep the scammers at bay:

  • Scan your computer before you access or transmit financial data. Before you work on your taxes, with financial data on your computer, or visit banking or financial sites, update your antivirus/antimalware software and run a scan.
  • Use only a secure browser when banking or shopping online. A banking site, shopping site, or any other site that trades in personal financial data should support secure, encrypted browsing.
  • Don’t give out any personal financial information unless you have logged into the banking or SA Revenue Service (Sars) site directly.
  • Log out of Sars e-filing or banking sessions as soon as you’ve finished. It’s advisable to close your browser completely after you’ve visited any site that requires a log-in or deals with your personal information.
  • Don’t file returns or access financial sites from a coffee bar, airport lounge, hotel or other wi-fi hot spot.
  • Consider encrypting the information that you store or send. Encryption software protects your sensitive personal information from prying eyes. Recipients of your emails can open them normally. If you store tax or financial records on your computer, store them in a folder with an innocuous or misleading name, and use a file encryption program to provide additional security.
  • Protect mobile devices. Your mobile device might also contain sensitive information. If you haven’t done so already, lock your phone with a password, and invest in security software that protects it from malware and safeguards your information in case of loss or theft.
  • Update your security software, web browsers, and browser plug-ins regularly. Supplied