Girl using a laptop computer

As the holiday season begins, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is telling residents to protect themselves against identity theft.

Identity thieves can steal financial and personal data from consumers, especially this time of year, Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said in a news conference Monday.

“Identity thieves can use this data to drain your bank account, or file a fraudulent tax return in your name early in 2020. That could give the identity thief an opening to steal the tax refund you may be entitled to,” Russell said.

The Department of Revenue outlined basic steps people can take to protect themselves from identity thieves:

  • Shop at websites where the web address begins “https” – the “s” is for secure communications. Don’t shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi in malls or hotels, where thieves can tap in. Secure your home Wi-Fi with a password.
  • Use security software for computers and mobile phones; keep it updated. 
  • Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Back up your files on computers and mobile phones.

Thieves will ask people through phishing emails for their identities or account passwords. Thieves may pose as companies or government agencies, such as the IRS or the Department of Revenue.

Thieves may demand a tax payment on a gift card. The IRS and the Department of Revenue will not demand payment via gift or debit cards. 

Anybody who was a victim of identity theft can call the Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit at 717-772-9297 or send an email to RA-RVPITFRAUD@pa.gov.