It sounds tempting. Sitting in your favorite coffee shop, knocking out your taxes on your smartphone. After all, it’s already common to use mobile devices for shopping and banking.
Most of the major tax software companies offer mobile filing, and the IRS even has an app!
Megan Gorman of Chequers Financial Management, however, has a word of caution, “But just because you can file on your phone doesn’t mean you should”
Financial experts warn that doing your taxes on a mobile device could create data vulnerabilities.
Gorman adds, “Most of the apps that allow you to do taxes on the phone require you to take a picture of your w-2, but that’s really sensitive data sitting out there that can easily be stolen.”
After uploading tax documents, many people forget to delete the photos, leaving them sitting in the phone’s storage and possibly on the cloud.
That is an invitation to get hacked. Scammers can also use malware to steal tax account logins. According to Symantec, mobile malware is on the rise, increasing by 54% in 2017.
Experts suggest, if your only option is to do your return on a mobile device, do not use a public wifi network.
Gorman agrees, adding, “If you’re sitting in a coffee shop fast food restaurant and you decide to do your tax return you don’t know who’s out there lurking around who could hop on your phone and get access to your most sensitive information”.
These important steps will help keep your tax information between you and Uncle Sam.
NBC contacted TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxSlayer and TaxAct to get their response to these security concerns. TurboTax and H&R Block responded, saying security and protecting their client’s information is a top priority.
TurboTax noted that its app does not store any data on a customer’s phone or device.
H&R Block said the photos taken with its mobile app are not saved to the device or the cloud and are removed from the client’s device after upload, usually 10 to 15 seconds.