As the internet constantly evolves and expands, more and more people are increasingly shopping online, storing their information in the cloud, and doing business virtually.
As our lives become more complicated, cyber-crime continues to evolve as well — make sure that you are up to date on the ever-changing internet scams.
THERE ARE SOME COMMON SCAMS YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF…
According to the IRS, taxpayers should be especially aware of a scheme related to Social Security Numbers. Scammers may claim that you owe overdue taxes and then threaten to suspend or cancel your SSN. If you ever receive such a call or voicemail, you should hang up!
You should never give out sensitive information over the phone unless you are sure the call is legitimate. If you’re ever in doubt, just hang up the phone.
There are a few ways that you can tell if the caller is actually a scammer. The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies will NEVER:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer (the IRS does not use these methods for tax payments)
- Ask a taxpayer to make a payment to a person or organization other than the U.S. Treasury
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying
- Demand taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed
Scammers will often impersonate IRS representatives to target senior citizens. Scammers will call claiming to be with the IRS and threaten jail time or revocation of a driver’s license. It’s important to recognize that this is a scam, the IRS will almost always contact you through mail, not over the phone. Plus, legitimate IRS employees will not threaten to revoke licenses or have a person jailed. These are just scare tactics scammers will use to get people to comply.
It’s important to be on the lookout for scammers who set up fake charities looking to take advantage of people’s generosity, especially around the holidays or after a tragic event, such as a natural disaster or the COVID-19 pandemic.
You should always research a charitable organization before you make a donation. While you may be able to claim a deduction on their federal tax return by making a charitable contribution, remember that you will only receive a deduction by donating to a qualified organization. The IRS provides the Tax Exempt Organization Search tool to make it easy to check the status of a charity you’re considering making a donation to.
Here are some tips to help you navigate your way around fake charity scams:
- Don’t let any caller pressure you; if the charity is legitimate, they will be happy to get a donation at any time, so there’s no rush
- Ask the fundraiser for the charity’s exact name, web address, and mailing address, so you can confirm the information
Do not work with charities that ask for donations in the form of a gift card or money wire; the safest way to pay is by credit card or check.
DON’T WORRY, THERE ARE WAYS TO HELP PROTECT YOURSELF…
The first step to protecting yourself and your data is knowing how to recognize potential cyber-crime vulnerabilities. Here are some basic precautions you can take to help prevent yourself from becoming a victim of cyber-crime.
Install anti-virus and ad-blocking software on all of your devices and keep it up-to-date. There are many companies that provide protection against malware and help protect your private and financial information when you go online.
Try not to repeat your passwords on different sites and change your passwords regularly. To make strong and complex passwords, use a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Using a password management tool can help you keep your passwords safe and secure. Also, setting up paperless statements for your financial accounts helps prevent your information from being lost or stolen in the mail. Watch the video below to learn how you can protect your phone and computer:
Turning on fraud alerts for your bank accounts allows you to be a step ahead. When enabled, these alerts notify you of potentially fraudulent transactions or account changes.
Always keep your personal information private. Cyber-criminals can often get your personal information with just a few data points, so the less you share publicly, the better off you’ll be.
There are endless scams that try to trick people into giving personal information over the internet. A VPN — virtual private network — can help to protect the data you send and receive online, especially when accessing the internet on public Wi-Fi.
With more people working remotely, identity thieves are trying to use COVID-19 to scare and scam people out of their identities or money. Watch the video below to learn some basic steps you can take to protect yourself:
If you think that you may have become a victim of cyber-crime, fraud, or identity theft, here are some steps you should consider taking:
- Report cyber-crime to authorities
- Contact the companies and banks where you know fraud occurred
- Place fraud alerts and get your credit reports
- Report identity theft to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission)
We know how hard you’ve worked to build your wealth and plan for your financial future. Working with an experienced financial professional is an important factor in keeping your finances safe from fraud.
CONTACT US today to speak with an advisor about your finances.