It’s National Tax Security Awareness Week – Tips to Stay Safe
On this Cyber Monday, as the IRS celebrates the 5th annual National Tax Security Awareness week, here are a few basic steps everyone should remember during the holidays and as the 2021 tax season approaches:
- Don’t forget to use security software for computers and mobile phones – and keep it updated.
- Make sure purchased 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 No. 1 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. Use a phrase or series of words that can be easily remembered or use 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. Remember, thieves can eavesdrop.
- 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.
NOTE: The IRS will not call, text or email about your Economic Impact Payment or your tax refund. Nor will the IRS call with threats of jail or lawsuits over unpaid taxes. Those are scams!
Be safe and secure this holiday season and beyond!