To say we all have a lot on our minds these days is a massive understatement. Unfortunately, bad actors and scammers know we are preoccupied. And, as they often do in a crisis, they’re ramping up their nefarious activities. There has been an increase in email and text message phishing, social media posts and fake websites designed to steal information and distribute malware. Here are some steps to head the bad guys off at the pass:
Be early. Yes, you have until July 15 to file your 2019 taxes. But one of the best ways to avoid identity tax theft is to file your taxes soon (if you haven’t already) to give thieves less time to file a fake return.
Be skeptical of requests for donations to help people who are ill or to fund a treatment or cure. Be wary of ads from unknown companies selling face masks or hand sanitizer or offers to invest in companies claiming to solve pandemic problems. To avoid clicking on a scammer’s COVID-related headline, get your news from reputable sites.
Be deliberate. Slow down. Scam artists create a sense of urgency to keep you from evaluating the situation. So, don’t be too quick to click a link or open an attachment – even if it’s in an email from a friend. If someone claiming to be a bank or company you associate with contacts you and asks for information, hang up and call them directly. If you receive information on an investment opportunity, ask a financial professional you trust for their opinion.
Be a little anti-social: Monitor your privacy settings on your social media profiles. Don’t accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know. Don’t share risky personal information (like your mother’s last name or your birthdate) on your profile. Use strong passwords. Don’t access your accounts on public wi-fi.
Be vigilant. Back up personal data, keep your devices secured and updated, and use multi-factor (MF) authentication when you can. (MF requires a security code sent to a second device.) Delete programs you don’t need. Monitor your credit cards, bank accounts and credit reports for activity you don’t recognize.
If you would like more information about identity theft and protecting your confidential and important information, please contact our office.