Cyber security expert warns to protect yourself after fraudulent Turbo Tax filings

But an increase in fraudulent filings recently caused Intuit, the Mountain View based company that publishes TurboTax, to stop allowing electronic filing of state tax returns Thursday. But it resumed service a day later, on Friday.

TurboTax, a popular do it yourself tax preparation software, can be found online and in stores. "It's easy. It's quick for me and I can do it online at home," said Eva Fillyaw of Mountain View.

But two people in Minnesota logged onto TurboTax to file their state tax returns only to find that someone else had already filed a return using their identity.

TurboTax says it's seen an increase in this type of fraudulent activity. Thieves use the stolen information to claim other people's tax refunds.

"Cybersecurity and privacy go hand in hand," said Dr. Sigurd Meldal with San Jose State. He's also the director of its Silicon Valley Big Data and Cybersecurity Center.

Meldal says the security breach isn't with TurboTax, but that it started when the victim's personal information was stolen elsewhere, "A breach in one place affects all of us elsewhere."

Brad Smith, Intuit's CEO said, "We are taking this issue very seriously and from the moment it emerged, it has been all-hands-on-deck."

"You can always improve on security no matter how good it is. There's always some clever person out there who can figure out how to circumvent it," said Dr. Meldal.

One woman who says she's used TurboTax for years says this latest problem is a reminder to be careful. "There's identity theft everywhere. You have to keep track of your stuff and protect yourself as best you can. I've been a victim of identity theft and I'm still recovering."

Dr. Meldal says one way to protect your passwords is to store them in a cyber-vault, by using a password management app that you can find on your mobile devices.

His other recommendation: use extremely difficult passwords.