The combination of the holiday shopping season, the upcoming tax season and the pandemic create additional opportunities for criminals to steal sensitive personal or finance information.
Ten Steps to Protect Sensitive Information This Holiday Season
"Don't let this be the most wonderful time of the year for identity thieves," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "The approach of the holidays and tax season increases risk for taxpayers and opportunities for criminals. We urge people to be extra careful with their personal and financial information during this period while shopping online or getting suspicious emails or text. Taking a few simple steps can keep people from becoming victims of identity theft and protect their sensitive personal information needed for tax returns and refunds."
To help taxpayers and tax professionals, the IRS offers these 10 basic steps everyone should remember during the holidays and as the 2022 tax season approaches:
1. Secure Your Mobile Devices
Don't forget to use security software for tablets and mobile phones—and keep it updated. Protect electronic devices of family members, especially teens and young children.
2. Protect Yourself Against Malware
Make sure anti-virus software for computers has a feature to stop malware, and there is a firewall enabled that can prevent intrusions.
3. Be Wary of Phishing
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, Economic Impact Payments and other tax law changes are common.
4. Password Protect Everything
Avoid using the same password. Use strong and unique passwords for online accounts. Use a phrase or series of words that can be easily remembered or, better yet, use a password manager.
5. Use Multi-Factor Authentication Whenever Possible
Many email providers and social media sites offer this feature. It helps prevent thieves from easily hacking accounts by requiring a second point of contact to access accounts.
6. Shop at Sites Where the Web Address Begins with "https"
The "s" in https is for secure communications over the computer network. Also, look for the "padlock" icon in the browser window.
7. Beware Public Networks
Don't shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi in places like a mall. Remember, thieves can eavesdrop.
8. Don’t Neglect Home Networks
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.
9. 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
10. Consider a VPN
Working from home? Consider creating a virtual private network (VPN) to securely connect to your workplace. VPN stands for "Virtual Private Network" and describes the opportunity to establish a protected network connection when using public networks. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and disguise your online identity.
We hope you found this helpful. Credit goes to: https://www.wealthmanagement.com/high-net-worth/ten-steps-protect-sensitive-information-holidayseason