Online Tax Returns & ID Theft

The deadline for filing your federal tax return is just about a month away. It's a risky season for consumers' most sensitive personal information, especially those filing on the go from a laptop or tablet.

We've got tips on keeping secure, in today's Consumer Watch.

Online tax prep and even mobile apps make it easier than ever to complete your tax return on the go. But that means wherever you go, your valuable personal information goes too and that can be a scammer's dream.

The main pieces of information that an identity thief would need: Name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, telephone. They've got everything, that's the keys to your kingdom.

Steve Schwartz of intersections -- a company that specializes in identity theft prevention services -- says if you're going to use your laptop, your tablet or your smartphone for filing taxes, make sure it's secure.

Never use an open wireless network like at an airport or a coffee shop, no matter how much you think you can trust that connection. And take protections in case you leave that device behind.

Make sure that you have a service that allows you to wipe that device if you lose it. If you lose it, you want to be able to remotely go online and say, Wipe all the data out of my device. That way if somebody does get their hands on it, they can't get into your information.

Also be mindful of someone looking over your shoulder while you enter your information -- and choose a password for the tax site or app, that's tough for scammers to crack.

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