Filing for your taxes can be a nuisance, but the refund you receive is well worth the effort, especially if you have big plans for your tax credit. But how would you feel if your refund check was stolen?

This year, SiteLock is partnering with ConnectSafely.org for Safer Internet Day on February 9th. We all play a role in creating a safe Internet experience, and you can do your part by safely filing your taxes.

Last year, an experienced group of hackers broke into the IRS’ database and gained access to the personal information of over 100,000 taxpayers. This information included taxpayers’ Social Security numbers, addresses, and salaries. The cybercriminals were able to collect nearly 15,000 tax refunds, costing the IRS a whopping $50 million.

Hackers often pose as the IRS and use phishing emails to trick taxpayers and tax preparers. These emails are designed to steal sensitive information, such as taxpayers’ data or tax preparers’ IRS account passwords. Victims may receive a seemingly legitimate email and download a malicious file attachment. From there, the attacker is able to steal information by logging the victim’s keystrokes.

Identifying these types of emails and keeping your information secure is possible. Here are a couple tips to help:

1. Learn how to recognize phishing emails from criminals posing as legitimate organizations, such as the IRS, banks or credit card companies. Never click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.

2. Ask your accountant about their website security, especially if you are providing your information through their site. Cybercriminals know how to hide malware deep in a website’s source code. You can verify a website’s security status by looking for a security badge on their homepage.

3. Monitor your accounts for fraudulent charges. Typically, hackers who steal financial information will test the victim’s data before making a large purchase. Make sure to double-check your bank statements on a regular basis for any unusual charges.

Visit the SiteLock blog for more information on protecting yourself from phishing scams.