Cyber Monday shopping list should include safeguards against online thieves

For many shoppers, Cyber Monday kicks off the holiday season. For some online thieves, ‘tis the season to take advantage of having so many people shop online at once. They steal shoppers’ personal information and package it as their own.

Some might call this a total Grinch move.

The IRS and its partners in the Security Summit advise taxpayers to take these simple steps to protect their identities, financial accounts, computers and mobile devices. People should:

• Shop at sites where the web address begins “https;” the “s” is for secure communications over the computer network. This is an added layer of protection when sharing credit card numbers for a purchase. Note: scam sites also can use “https,” so shoppers should ensure they are shopping with a legitimate retailer.
• Not shop on unsecured public wi-fi. This helps to prevent thieves from eavesdropping. Instead, use secure home wi-fi with a password.
• Use security software for computers and mobile phones, and keep it updated. Make sure anti-virus software has a feature to stop malware and there is a firewall that can prevent intrusions.
• Not hand out personal information. Phishing scams, imposter emails, calls and texts are the number one way thieves steal personal data.
• Not open links or attachments on suspicious emails.
• Use strong, unique, yet easily remembered passwords are safest for online accounts.
• Use two-factor authentication whenever possible. Many email providers and social media sites offer this feature to help prevent thieves from easily hacking accounts.
• 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.

IRS Tax Tip: 2019-168

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