Filing 2012 income tax returns safely in wake of DOR security breach

Customers awaiting tax preparation help at a local business
Customers awaiting tax preparation help at a local business

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - At Liberty Tax Service, the filing frenzy has started.

"We got to do it because we've got to file our taxes," said Vanessa Mikell, who's getting her taxes done. "If we don't we'll be in trouble."

Customers, including Mikell, are hesitant about turning personal account information over to the Department of Revenue following the security breach involving its computer system last year.

"You don't want no one stealing your identity," said Walker. "You work hard for what you have and you don't want nobody coming around taking what you worked for."

Some wonder if paper filing might be a safer option; no information in servers to steal. But you're trusting the glue on an envelope.

"You got our hands on it, you get your hands on it," said Satoris Walker with Liberty Tax Service. "You got to get it in the mail and the mail system, you got a lot of hands touching it there, and then you actually have to get it to the I-R-S."

Paper returns are then manually entered into the Department of Revenue's servers, still becoming electronic records.

"It is stored in different servers," said Samantha Cheek with the Department of Revenue.

There's a new reassurance. Just this week, the DOR started to mask your personal information.

"We're encrypting all confidential taxpayer information including social security numbers," said Cheek.

It should take 90 days to complete. They've also started a new password system called 2 factor authorization for information accessed from outside the building.

"They'll have their password that they know and then another password that's generated every so often and it constantly changes in order for them to log into the system," said Cheek.

It's an effort to better protect your information and avoid a repeat of last year.

The Department of Revenue reminds filers, the breach didn't involve the transmission of records, but how the information was stored on their servers.

With the safeguards they are just now putting in place, they feel, this year's returns will be better protected.

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