BALTIMORE - You don't need a computer anymore to check Facebook, find restaurants or contact friends. You can do all that and more from your Smartphone or tablet. Technology now means you can touch and go with your taxes too. But that may put you at risk.
For years you toiled away with an adding machine, and then filled out forms with pen and paper. But things have changed on the approach to April 15th. Baltimore County enrolled agent Teddy Prioleau knows that for sure. He says, "Change is constant. That's what tax return preparation is all about."
Prioleau has been doing peoples' taxes for more than 30 years and has watched the options change over and over. He explains, "Technology has really taken over."
In this day and age, e-filing has made tax time a breeze. But forget the computer. Now you can go one step further, filing with Uncle Sam while you're on the go. Joe Mason, with Virginia-based security firm Identity Guard says, "It's a very nice application and there are some big players that have some apps now for tablets and Smartphone."
If you've got a simple return, touch and go taxing can be as easy as downloading the apps, snapping some pics of your W-2, answering a few questions and hitting send. But could that convenience put you at risk? Mason thinks so, "If that transmission is insecure, then you expose yourself to identity fraud."
If that happens, you'll be giving scammers every tool they need, thanks to your tax forms. So if you're going mobile this tax season, Mason says you've got to protect yourself. He says you need to make sure your Smartphone or tablet has the latest antivirus software. He suggests password protecting your device in case it gets lost or stolen and buying a service to wipe it clean in the worst case scenario.
You should only download tax apps from a trusted source and be selective where you use them. Mason says, "There are still many public hot spots that aren't secure and in the event you're in one of those places, don't attempt to send anything sensitive."
Teddy "The Tax Man" Prioleau knows all about handling that sensitive information the right way. While he understands why some will skip the computer these days, he says the potential for security risks will keep him from phoning in his own form or those of his clients. Prioleau says, "I've got to be as careful as possible with my clients' information. There are no ifs, ands or buts."