Special to GUIDON
The Internal Revenue Service urged families and teens to stay vigilant in protecting personal information while connected to the internet.
Often, those who are less experienced can put themselves and others at risk by leaving an unnecessary trail of personal information for fraudsters.
Here are a few common-sense suggestions that can make a difference for children, teens and those who are less experienced:
Remind them why security is important
People of all ages should not reveal too much information about themselves. Keeping data secure and only providing what is necessary minimizes online exposure to scammers and criminals. Birthdates, addresses, age and especially Social Security numbers are among things that should not be shared freely.
Use security software
Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files like tax records stored on computers. Use strong, unique passwords for each account. Be sure all family members have comprehensive protection if devices are being shared.
Recognize and avoid scams
Phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as IRS or from legitimate organizations pose risks. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
Protect personal data
Don’t routinely carry a Social Security card. Keep it at home. Be sure any financial records are secure. Advise children and teens to shop at reputable online retailers. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.
Public Wi-Fi networks
Connection to Wi-Fi in a mall or coffee shop is convenient but it may not be safe. Hackers and cybercriminals can easily intercept personal information. Always use a virtual private network when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
The IRS does not use text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues. For more information, visit the tax scams and consumer alerts page on IRS.gov.
(Editor’s note: This article was submitted to the GUIDON from the IRS.)