Beware of Scammers – Protect Your Information
IT Corner – Winter 2017
These days, cybercriminals are at it like never before and identity theft is everywhere. By taking a few simple steps, you can better protect your personal and financial data online and at home from these scammers.
Cybercriminals continue stealing large amounts of personal data from people all over the world. They can use that data to file fraudulent tax returns or commit other crimes while impersonating the victims.
Please consider these steps to protect yourself and your data:
Keep Your Computer Secure
• Use security software and make sure it updates automatically; essential tools include using a firewall, virus/malware protection and file encryption for sensitive data.
• Treat your personal information like cash, don’t leave it lying around.
• Check out companies to find out who you’re really dealing with.
• Give personal information only over encrypted websites – look for “https” addresses.
• Use strong passwords, protect them and change them frequently.
• Back up your files.
Avoid Phishing and Malware
• Avoid phishing emails, texts or calls that appear to be from the IRS, tax companies and other well-known business; instead, go directly to their websites.
• Don’t open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and know what it is all about.
• Download and install software only from websites you know and trust.
• Use a pop-up blocker.
• Talk to your family about safe computing practices.
Protect Personal Information
• Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card or documents with your Social Security Number.
• Do not overshare personal information on social media. Information about past addresses, a new car, a new home and your children help identity thieves pose as you.
• Keep old tax returns and tax records under lock and key or encrypted, if electronic. Shred tax documents before trashing.
Watch out for IRS Impersonators.
The IRS will not call you with threats of jail or lawsuits and will not send you an unsolicited email suggesting you have a refund or that you need to update your account. The organization will not request any sensitive information online. These are all scams, and change frequently. Don’t fall for them. Forward any IRS-related scam emails to email@example.com and report any IRS-impersonation telephone calls at www.tigta.gov.
• Check your credit report annually; check your bank and credit card statements often;
• Review your Social Security Administration records annually: Sign up for My Social Security at www.ssa.gov.
• If you are an identity theft victim whose tax account is affected, review http://www.irs.gov/identitytheft for details.
These are all simple steps you can take that will go a long way in helping you to protect yourself and your information.