Is my password easy to steal?
How clever is your password? If it’s on the list below, your password is just as easily stolen as it is remembered. Protect yourself by making sure you’re not using one of the top 25 most commonly stolen passwords of 2016, as determined by IT security firm SplashData. To create a more secure password, make sure you are not using only numbers, and try not to use simple keyboard patterns. You may also want to stay away from easy-to-find information such as birthdays, favorite sports teams, and addresses. Try to create a password that is eight or more letters long, and don’t use the same password for multiple access points.
Easily Stolen Passwords:
Why does it matter?
Identity Theft Increases at Tax Time
The IRS recently put out an alert to warn taxpayers about identity theft that could happen when you file taxes. Tax forms include personal information, like Social Security numbers, that can be used for identity theft and fraud. Some thieves even use the stolen information to file for fraudulent refunds. The IRS offers suggestions on how taxpayers can protect themselves. The following suggestions come from the IRS Newswire (IR-2017-22).
- Use strong passwords
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections, and make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update.
- Encrypt sensitive files, such as tax records, that are stored on the computer.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls, and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations (i.e., banks, credit card companies and government organizations, including the IRS).
- Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Protect personal data. Don’t routinely carry a Social Security card, and make sure tax records are secure. Treat personal information like cash, and don’t leave it lying around.
Another Tax Form Security Risk
The IRS and state tax agencies also recently sent out an alert about W-2 phishing. These scams can now be found in the corporate world, school districts, nonprofits, etc. The scam involves a fake email from an executive at an organization claiming they need a list of employees and their W-2 forms. Payroll and HR employees in particular need to be careful. This type of request is not normal for real executives and should be confirmed on the phone or in person with that executive directly.
Taxpayers should also be careful about using search engines to find tax preparation help services or software. Many of these websites are for fake companies/services, and the links can infect a computer. There are tools provided by the IRS to help find tax help. Check the newsletter for these resources and more information on W-2 related scams.
This information is abstracted from Zywave’s “What Do You Know About Safety?” newsletter.