I was preparing to e-file my 2013 taxes using Intuit’s TurboTax Deluxe for Windows when this security alert popped up on my computer:
I took a look at the certificate and found TurboTax was apparently trying to set up a connection to Adadvisor.net. Since there’s no reason for TurboTax to be making any internet connections at this point, let alone to an “Ad Advisor”, I said “No”.
I checked my browser and found fresh cookies for adadvisor.net, which means that TurboTax had allowed a third party access to my computer. When I Googled adadvisor.net, I found that they are run by Neustar Information Services, a company that “provides audience insights that increase online advertising relevancy through the power of verified offline consumer data.” (note: if you click on that link, Neustar will add yet another set of cookies.)
Is TurboTax secretly giving an unapproved third party my verified personal data, gained from my income tax return? I’ve deleted the cookies, so I don’t have them handy for further analysis, but as the old Magic 8-ball might say, “All signs point to Yes.”
I’d expect this sleazy behavior from TurboTax if I were using the web version, but I had the apparently naive expectation that I’d retain some small scrap of privacy by using the desktop app.
Meanwhile, my E-filing seems to have been successful, though if TurboTax and their partners can’t do something as simple as generating a functional certificate chain, who knows what really happened to my returns?