GUEST BLOG: Tips to Protect Your Financial Information When Filing a Tax Return

By: Eileen McNulty, Secretary of Revenue

February 04, 2017

Over the next few months, Pennsylvanians will file approximately 6.4 million personal income tax returns with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Nearly 85 percent of those returns will be filed electronically using several options, including the state’s free padirectfile system, commercial software and no cost software for income-eligible Pennsylvanians.

E-filing is safe and has advantages over paper returns. The software does the math for you, refunds process faster and you can use direct deposit options. E-filing is also more cost effective for the commonwealth.

Whether you are e-filing or not, tax season is a good time to review important steps to protect your personal and financial information from scam artists and identity thieves.

Some actions you can take include:

  • Update computer security and encrypt your tax returns and other sensitive data.
  • Use strong passwords with eight or more characters containing a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Passwords should vary from other accounts and should never use your name, birthday, or common words.
  • Beware of phishing emails or phone scams pretending to be from your financial institution, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Revenue or other trusted entity. These scams can trick people into revealing their social security or bank account number and other personal, or financial information.
  • Use secure wireless networks when online. It’s easier for criminals to steal information un unsecure Wi-Fi networks. Be sure to encrypt your own wireless network.
  • Know your tax preparer. If someone helps you prepare a tax return, make sure it’s someone you know will be available after the filing deadline date. Do not let any preparer take your refund and then pay you directly.

Information about reporting and recovering from identity theft is available from the Federal Trade Commission at If a scammer files a Pennsylvania tax return in your name, contact the Department of Revenue’s Fraud Investigation Unit at 717-772-9297 or by email at


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