Experts offer advice for protecting privacy and security when filing taxes | Virginia Tech News | Virginia Tech

April is here which means tax filing is upon us. While taxes can be stressful, there is also a concern about the information you share and the impact on your privacy.

Virginia Tech information privacy and cybersecurity experts and co-founders of Voices of Privacy, France Bélanger and Donna Wertalik, explain more about privacy when it comes to filing your taxes.

“A major privacy concern is tax scams,” says Bélanger. “The goal is to steal your sensitive information, like your Social Security number, name, address, and employer details.” Using this information, cyber criminals can file a false return in your name with the goal of receiving refunds to their own accounts.

“A key point to remember and understand is that electronic filing is more secure than mailing a tax return,” says Wertalik. “That’s because they are encrypted, meaning it is not possible to read the information as it is being transmitted from your personal device to the tax authorities.”

“It is easy to look past your data privacy and security, especially when it comes to dealing with an already irritating task, taxes,” says Wertalik. “By following these tips and remembering the importance of data privacy, you will be able to keep your private information safe and protected.”

France Bélanger holds the titles of University Distinguished Professor, R. B. Pamplin Professor, and Tom & Daisy Byrd Senior Faculty Fellow in the Accounting and Information Systems Department within the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. An author, researcher, educator, consultant, and advocate for information privacy, she has studied issues surrounding the topic for two decades and written about the subject for the majority of her 200 published articles.

Donna Wertalik currently serves as director of marketing strategy and analytics and is a professor of practice in marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. Her role encompasses branding, marketing and metrics for the business school, as well as leading the strategic efforts of Pamplin’s Virtual Identity through Virginia Tech’s Social Media Organization, Prism. She has diverse corporate and academic experience in the identification of marketing opportunities, brand management, social media engagement and measurement, and overall product development.

To schedule an interview, contact Margaret Ashburn in the media relations office at or 540-529-0814.

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