With tax season on the way, it’s time to protect your personal data

A few steps can help you avoid becoming a victim of a scam

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With tax season just around the corner, authorities are warning people to take steps to protect their personal and financial information so they can avoid falling victim to scams.

On Tuesday, representatives from several agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, met downtown as part of National Tax Security Awareness Week to share some tips to arm the public against fraud and identity theft.

“If there are two things I can share with the citizens of Jacksonville today, it would be simply this: never give your personal information to anyone over the phone and never purchase gift cards at anyone’s request,” said Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Phillip Christie.

IRS Special Agent Chris Schneider had simple advice for people who receive scam calls: “First, take a deep breath, and then hang up the phone.”

And remember, Schneider said, you’re not alone. “Ironically, I’ve gotten them on my IRS cell phone, so they’re indiscriminate as to who they go to.”

The best way to protect yourself is to safeguard your personal data. That means changing passwords often and making sure they’re strong. Also, never enter your personal details on an unsecured website, and avoid clicking on any links you don’t recognize.