As with any financial transaction, please exercise discretion when using the Internet. For your own safety, be careful. The following suggestions may be helpful:
- Install the most recent security updates for your operating system & firewall software.
- Install the newest version & security updates for your Internet browser.
- Install a trustworthy security software that detects viruses, spyware, trojans, worms, bots, rootkits, etc. and keep it updated.
- Use caution when receiving unsolicited or urgent sounding email notices. Many are fraudulent or scams.
- Use trustworthy sites or businesses when using your credit or debit card online.
- Avoid Free offers that require a credit or debit card. Many enroll you into clubs that charge your card service fees.
- Use caution using personal and private information on public or social web sites.
- Use hard to guess or cryptic passwords and change them often.
- Never provide your debit card PIN on a web site or over the phone. Your PIN will never be used to identify you or authorize a purchase in this way.
- Use caution if you receive an email or text message about your credit or debit card. Many are scams. If in doubt, call your card issuer directly.
- Always be careful & use common sense.
Additional Tips From Other Sources (Tax Season):
- IRS Will Not Email You. For most tax season threats you can stop right there. If you understand that the IRS will not contact you by email to let you know that you have a larger refund, or that you owe more money, then you can simply ignore 99% of the tax scams out there.
- IRS Will Not Ask For Your Bank / Credit Card Info. If you forget the first tip, then this one should cover the remaining bases and protect you from tax season scams. Even if you actually owe more money, the IRS will never ask you to hand over your bank account PIN or credit card number.
- Don’t Click Links or Open Attachments in Unsolicited Emails. This is a security best practice for any occasion, and is a mantra of security experts everywhere. Most email-borne malware and phishing attacks can be avoided if you just remember not to click on any link, or open any file attachment on an unsolicited email.
- Never Conduct Sensitive Transactions Over Public Networks. It is convenient to be able to jump online in a library or hotel lobby, or connect using the free public Wi-Fi at your neighborhood Starbucks or McDonald’s, but don’t conduct sensitive business on those networks. Networks that are shared publicly expose your data and traffic to interception and exploit.
- Always Log Out of Sites. It is habit for many people to “end” a Web session by clicking the “X” to shut down the browser window. But, even after the browser is closed, your session with your bank or credit card company is probably still live for some period of time before it times out. To be sure nobody else can jump on and hijack your session, you should actually log out of accounts before you shut the browser.
- Don’t Share a PC With Your Kids. You might be smart enough not to fall for clever scams and phishing attacks, but are your kids? If you share a PC with your kids, they may just become the weakest link for protecting your data, and inadvertently expose your PC to increased risk. If you do share a PC, at least log in using different user accounts, and keep your sensitive data protected so that other user accounts can’t access it.
- Conduct Secure Transactions–Look for the Padlock. When you do log in to a bank, or credit card, or other sensitive site, it should be an encrypted HTTPS session to prevent the traffic from being intercepted. Look for your browser address bar to be green, or look for the little padlock icon to indicate that your browser session is secure.
- If It’s Too Good To Be True, It’s Not True. What are the odds that the IRS has reviewed your return and determined that you are owed more money? Pretty slim. Rather than getting excited about the prospect of more money coming your way, go with that gut reaction and assume it’s a scam.