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Tips to Keep your Personal Information Safe

Today I opened a letter that informed me that my husband’s personal information was part of the data breach and info was stolen “in a cyber intrusion.”  The malicious cyber intrusion was carried out against the US Government.  He now has the option to enroll in “free” identity theft and monitoring services.  Unfortunately, these occurrences are becoming too common.

In an effort to educate taxpayers, the IRS is issuing weekly Security Awareness Tips to help individuals protect their information from attacks.  You should be aware of these simple tips to protect yourself so that your information cannot be used to file a fraudulent tax return.

Routine things you do on your phone and computer can affect the safety of your data.  Here are seven best practices for you to consider:

  1. Understand and use security software to protect your computer. Often your internet provider will offer free access to security software.  Essential tools include a firewall, virus/malware protection and file encryption.
  2. Set your software to update automatically so that you keep pace with new threats.
  3. Look for “S” for Encrypted “https” websites when shopping or banking online. Look for the https:// at the beginning of the web address.
  4. Use strong passwords and change them often. I know this is a pain to keep track of, but it is worth it!
  5. Secure your wireless network by setting up a password to access the network.
  6. Public wi-fi hotspots are convenient but not secure. Don’t make purchases or do online banking using unsecured wireless networks.
  7. Avoid phishing attempts. Never reply to emails, texts or pop-up messages asking for personal information.  Often a criminal will pose as the IRS or financial institution to try to get your personal information.  Be aware, legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through unsecured channels.

You can look for weekly info updates at IRS Taxes Security Together