Consumer Alert: Identity thieves are busy at tax time; here’s how to protect yourself.

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Wednesday’s consumer alert examines Christmas in April. That’s right. Tax time is like Christmas for identity thieves. Everything a thief would need to assume your identity is on a tax form. And that’s a little troubling.

According to the IRS, 95% of us file electronically. Half of us prepare our own taxes. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that we do it safely While it may be tempting to work on your taxes while gulping down your venti triple shot caramel macchiato at Starbucks, never use public Wi-Fi. You want to make sure your Wi-Fi network is secure. And AT&T tech guru Jason Komenski says use an IP pen from the IRS.

“That’s your personal login” said Komenski. Nobody can steal that. Nobody can hack in while you’re doing your taxes. It kind of just confirms and reassures you that your information is your information at that point.”

Here’s Deanna’s Do List for avoiding tax time ID theft:

· Create strong, unique passwords for each financial site you use.

· Beware of phishing. Scammers love sending emails that look like they’re from the IRS.

· Remember, the IRS uses snail mail to reach you.

· When you’re finished, shred all bank documents or store them securely.

· Use anti-virus software.

I combed through recommendations from PC magazine, Consumer Reports, CNET, Forbes and Investopedia and chose the five recommended by all three sources.

Here they are:

Malware Bytes

McAfee Anti-virus Plus

Bitdefender , CNET also gives the free version high marks.

Avast Premium, Avast’s free version also got high ratings from Consumer Reports

WeBroot SecureAnywhere gets high ratings for Mac as well.