03 Dec National Tax Security Awareness Week
This week the IRS “celebrates” Tax Security Awareness and provides tips for Americans to stay safe from tax and other scammers. We see tax fraud occasionally impact our clients, and it changes frequently, so we talk about it a lot on our blog.
Here are some tips to remember this holiday season:
- Don’t forget to use security software for computers and mobile phones – and keep it updated.
- Make sure your anti-virus software has a feature to stop malware, and there is a firewall that can prevent intrusions.
- Phishing scams – like imposter emails, calls and texts – are the top way thieves steal personal data. Don’t open links or attachments on suspicious emails. This year, fraud scams related to COVID-19 and the Economic Impact Payment are common.
- Use strong and unique passwords for online accounts. But make them something you’ll easily remember, otherwise sign up for a password manager.
- Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Many email providers and social media sites offer this feature. It helps prevents thieves from easily hacking accounts.
- Shop at sites where the web address begins with “https” – the “s” is for secure communications over the computer network. Also, look for the “padlock” icon in the browser window.
- Don’t shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi in places like a mall or the library (or the airport on your way to visit Grandma). Hackers love these.
- At home, secure home Wi-Fis with a password. With more homes connected to the web, secured systems become more important, from wireless printers, wireless door locks to wireless thermometers. These can be access points for identity thieves.
- Back up files on computers and mobile phones. A cloud service or an external hard drive can be used to copy information from computers or phones – providing an important place to recover financial or tax data.
- Working from home? Consider creating a virtual private network (VPN) to securely connect to your workplace.
Check out IRS.gov/securitysummit for additional information and tips.
Furthermore, the FBI and FTC both issued warnings recently earlier about fraud and scams related to the pandemic. COVID-related fraud complaints can be filed at the National Center for Disaster Fraud. Consumers can also keep atop the latest scam information and report COVID-related scams at Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: The FTC in Action.