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Help File: Using a tax-prep application

By Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 29, 2011; 5:17 PM

Q: I'd like to use a tax-prep application this year, but I don't want to enter my Social Security number online. Should I be concerned about that?

A: First, you can always run the disk-based, off-line versions of tax-prep programs, such as Intuit's TaxCut and H&R Block's Block At Home, and file through the mail.

Or you can use an online application (my preference), store a fake SSN, print your returns and then use Wite-Out to mask the incorrect digits before writing in the correct ones.

But in the larger sense, you shouldn't worry about providing your Social Security number in the secured, encrypted confines of a tax-prep system. Instead, you should worry about all the more- obscure corporate and government databases that store that information, some of which have much looser security and have been implicated in past data breaches. Unfortunately, there's little you can do about that risk.

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