Washington: The IRS and the Security Summit partners have issued warnings to all taxpayers and tax professionals to beware of scams and ID theft schemes by criminals taking advantage of the combination of holiday shopping, the approaching tax season and coronavirus concerns.
The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry opened the National Tax Security Awareness Week to coincide with Cyber Monday (Nov 30), the traditional start of the online holiday shopping season, which this time is combined with the impending tax season and an increased trend toward working remotely making online security an absolute necessity.
“This is generally the hunting season for online thieves, but this year there’s a dangerous combination of factors at play that should make people more alert,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
So here are some tips to stay safe:
- Don’t forget to use security software for computers and mobile phones – and keep it updated.
- 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.
- 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.