Posts tagged "Speaker"
Stop falling for IRS and tax ID theft scams.
Because we are distracted during tax season, we are primed to be socially engineered or manipulated by tax scams and can end up becoming the victim of tax ID theft. Here’s how to combat the problem:
- When someone asks for your SSN, TIN or other ID, refuse until you verify their legitimacy.
- If someone promises to drastically reduce your tax bill or speed up your tax return, suspect fraud and tax ID theft.
- If anyone asks you for information in order to send you your check, they are scamming for your identity. The IRS already knows where you live (and where to send your refund).
- Know that the IRS will NEVER email you for any reason. The IRS emphasizes that it doesn’t “initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.” This includes “any type of electronic communications, such as text messages and social-media channels.”
Secure your computers and copy machines from hackers.
Last year, more than 80 million Americans filed their tax returns electronically and even more stored tax-related information insecurely on their computers. To prevent electronic identity theft, implement the following security measures:
- Install anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-spyware software (generally referred to as a Security Suite) configured to download and install automatic updates. Failure to take this most basic and time-tested of steps allows malware attached to malicious emails, social media platforms and rogue websites to penetrate your entire system, giving thieves access to every computer on your network, not just one.
- Create strong alphanumeric passwords or utilize password protection software to protect the digital keys to your information.
- Encrypt hard drives or data-sensitive folders to keep out unwanted visitors.
- Set up automatic operating system updates and security patches that close gaping entry points for data thieves.
Tax season can be a stressful time of year for individuals and business owners alike, especially those who fail to plan in advance and then sacrifice focus and performance as they race to meet the filing deadline. But that stress is nothing compared to the potential destruction of your financial reputation brought on by tax-time identity theft. And tax-related identity theft is on a precipitous rise.
An audit published on July 19, 2012 by the U.S. Treasury Department, found that the IRS paid fraudulent tax returns to identity thieves worth a total of $5 Billion in 2011. The study also predicted that the IRS (and therefore, you as a taxpayer) will lose an estimated $21 Billion in fraudulent claims over the next five years. Tax-related information is the Holy Grail of identity theft because it contains virtually every piece of information, including a Social Security number (SSN), which a fraudster needs to defraud you.
You and I have come to think of our Smartphones as indispensable tools. Flaws recently discovered in mobile apps for Facebook, Linkedin and Dropbox could turn our tools into weapons by exposing us to data theft at many levels, including personal identity theft and corporate data loss.
Taking extra precautions now will protect not only your Smartphone but other devices, too, as the flaw may well be present in other mobile applications including many iOS games.
Apparently, Facebook’s iOS and Android apps don’t encrypt their users’ login credentials. These flaws expose users to identity theft by saving user authentication keys (usernames and passwords) in easily accessible, plain text files. These unencrypted files may be stolen, transferred to another device in a matter of minutes, and used to access the victim’s accounts without ever having to enter any user login credentials.
The post appears like it’s coming from a known friend. It’s enticing (“check out what our old high school friend does for a living now!”), feeds on your curiosity and good nature, begs you to click. A quick peek at the video, a chance to win a FREE iPad or to download a coupon, and presto, you’ve just infected your computer with malware (all the bad stuff that sends your private information to criminals and marketers). Sound like the spam email of days gone by? You’re right – spam has officially moved into the world of social media, and it’s like winning the lottery for cyber thugs.
What is Social Spam?
Nothing more than junk posts on your social media sites luring you to click on links that download malicious software onto your computer or mobile device.