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Caution: Tax & Cyber Security Scams

Caution: Tax & Cyber Security Scams

The 5th annual National Tax Security Awareness Week took place November 30th through December 4th, 2020. The IRS and the Security Summit used that week as a platform to raise awareness about cyber security scams and identity theft schemes. 

This year we have additional circumstances that contribute to an increased prevalence of scams. With the current health crisis of COVID-19 as well as an increased number of people working remotely, scams have become even more widespread.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig recently stated, "The combination of online holiday shopping, the approaching filing season and more of us are working remotely puts people more at risk. People can help avoid becoming victims of scams or identity thefts, by taking a few simple steps to help protect sensitive tax and financial information."

Throughout National Tax Security Awareness Week, we used our Instagram account to share some of the tips most recommended by the IRS to protect yourself from these scams. Here are 5 helpful tips to keep your personal and financial information safe.

  1. Don’t open links or attachments on suspicious emails. The IRS explains that phishing scams such as imposter emails and calls are the number one way personal data is stolen. Look out for scams related to COVID-19 and stimulus checks.
  2. Don’t shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi. The IRS reminds us that when using public WiFi, our data becomes vulnerable to thieves. When using public WiFi, such as in a mall or a coffee shop, don’t shop online. Protect your information and your identity.
  3. Use strong and unique passwords for online accounts. The IRS encourages you to use strong and unique passwords for all online accounts. You can use a secure password manager or make sure your passwords are easy for you, and only you, to remember.
  4. Secure your secure home Wi-Fi with a password. The IRS recommends that you protect your information and data at home by using a password to access your WiFi. Without a password, you personal and financial information and identity are at risk. With the use of wireless technology such as wireless printers and doors locks, even more is at risk. Use a password for protection!
  5. Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. The IRS suggests using multi-factor authentication when you can. You have probably used multi-factor authentication already when logging into specific websites or even social media platforms. This process gives you an additional method to verify yourself and prevents thieves from easily accessing your accounts.

Taxpayers, businesses, and tax professionals all face potential security challenges so it is vital to take precautions and be aware and knowledgeable.

For more information, read the full IRS press release here.

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