Identity theft: Protect your social media, banking and online shopping accounts from hackers

Protecting your information from hackers and online scams
Identity theft: Protect your social media, banking and online shopping accounts from hackers.
Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 9:14 PM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Identity theft, online scams, and taxpayer fraud happens far too often, and sadly hits many people across the country. The IRS and state tax agencies are working together to help safeguard your personal information from hackers.

Phishing scams, are one of the ways criminals can steal your information and access your social media, banking and online shopping accounts. A phishing scam is an unsolicited form of contact by someone posing as a legitimate site. Experts ask people to make sure their Wi-fi is secure, and avoid using unsecure Wi-fi locations, along with opening random links you receive through your text messages and emails. This will help prevent scammers from accessing your private information.

“Making sure that the software updates regularly and it goes onto all of your devices,” says Karen Connelly, spokesperson from the IRS. “Always use the multi-factor authentication if it’s available, that’s usually used on not only social media sites but also on your banking devices.”

The general may not realize how vulnerable they are to scammers, for more on how you can protect yourself and your family watch the interview with IRS media spokesperson, Karen Connelly at the top of this article.

According to the IRS here are 10 key steps to protect your personal information

  • Don’t forget to use security software for computers, tablets and mobile phones – and keep it updated. Protect electronic devices of family members, especially teens and young children.
  • Make sure anti-virus software for computers has a feature to stop malware, and there is a firewall enabled that can prevent intrusions.
  • 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, Economic Impact Payments and other tax law changes are common.
  • Use strong and unique passwords for online accounts. Use a phrase or series of words that can be easily remembered or use a password manager.
  • Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Many email providers and social media sites offer this feature. It helps prevent thieves from easily hacking accounts.
  • 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.
  • Back up files on computers and mobile phones. A cloud service or an external hard drive can be used to copy information from computers or phones – providing an important place to recover financial or tax data.
  • Working from home? Consider creating a virtual private network (VPN) to securely connect to your workplace.

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