TALK TO YOUR FAMILY ABOUT SECURITY ONLINE AND AT HOME
For families with children and aging parents, it's important to make sure everyone guards their personal information online and at home.
It may be time for “the conversation.”
The IRS, state revenue departments and the tax industry have teamed up to combat identity theft in the tax arena.
Especially in families that use the same computer, students should be warned against turning off any security software in use or opening any suspicious emails. They should be instructed to never click on embedded links or download attachments of emails from unknown sources. Identity thieves are just one of many predators plying the Internet. And, actions by one computer user could infect the machine for all users. That's a concern when dealing with personal financial details or tax information.
Kids should be warned against oversharing personal information on social media. Oversharing about home addresses, a new family car or a parent's new job gives identity thieves a window into an extra bit of information they need to impersonate you.
Aging parents also are prime targets for identity thieves. If they are browsing the internet, they made need to the same conversation about online security, avoiding spam email schemes and oversharing on social media.
They may also need assistance for someone to routinely review charges to their credit cards, withdrawals from their financial accounts. Unused credit cards should be canceled. An annual review should be made of their credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com to ensure no new accounts are being opened by thieves, and the Social Security Administration account should be reviewed to ensure no excessive income is accruing to their account.
Seniors also are especially vulnerable to scam calls and pressure from fraudsters posing as legitimate organizations, including the Internal Revenue Service, and demanding payment for debts not owed. The IRS will never make threats of lawsuit or jail or demand that a certain payment method, such as a debit card, be made. The IRS will not telephone you and ask for money unless they have first contacted you by letter. Do not share any information with “the IRS” until you are positive that is with whom you are dealing.
Fraudsters will try to trick seniors, telling them they have won a grand prize in a contest or that a relative needs money – anything to persuade a person to give up personal information such as their Social Security number or financial account information.
Some simple steps – and a conversation – can help the young and old avoid identity theft schemes and scammers.