Security is a key consideration for those using filing software.
In the US, tax return season is quickly drawing to a close, with now less than a month until the deadline to file most returns. While some savvy consumers like to get things done and off their to-do lists in January, a few procrastinators end up waiting until the very last minute, sometimes even standing in line in the post office after hours just to get the officially postmarked date.
For those with the resources, means, and need, CPAs do a booming business at this time of year. But not everyone needs an accountant; for some households without any unusual situations that might require more in-depth expertise on tax law, going it alone is preferred. More and more consumers are turning to tax preparation software for the ease of use, ability to autofill the tedious inputting of information year over year, and the built-in tax tools that can help them get as many legal deductions as possible.
Fortunately, as the popularity of software filing increases, more and more competitors in the field come along to offer users the most top-notch experience. But if all of the titles are working under the same regulations and tax laws, how can consumers tell which one is better? That’s where security comes in.
One software title has already experienced a breach that exposed more than 400 users’ personal identifiable information to hackers. Others fared far better, as around 5,000 accounts were actually affected, although those other users’ tax returns were not accessed.
It’s terrifying to sit at a computer and type in all of your most sensitive information, but that’s exactly what’s required in order to use tax prep software. In order to sleep well at night afterwards, users have got to ensure that the title they use has a full complement of security tools running it. Of course, making sure the leak isn’t on the user’s end is the first step, including utilizing a secure password protected network, running a virus scan before entering any info, and deploying a VPN while working and submitting.
There are other considerations once you’re ensured of your security. Find one that offers audit protection and support if the worst should happen, and make sure to read the reviews of the customer support before you buy. Offering live support is one thing, but following through and making sure they’re knowledgeable is something else entirely. Check out the software as thoroughly as you would if you were hiring a live accountant, and make sure to put your data security above everything else.