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Tips to help people stay safe online

These days most people are spending more time at home and a lot more time online. Whether people are online for work, school, a virtual gathering or shopping, online security is more important than ever.

Everyone should be mindful of risks they may encounter when they share devices, shop online and interact on social media.
Taxpayers might find the online security overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Even those who aren't super tech-savvy can stay safe online.
 
Remember security is important.
No one should reveal too much information about themselves. People can keep data secure by only providing what is necessary. This reduces online exposure to scammers and criminals. For example, birthdays, addresses, age and especially Social Security numbers are some things that should not be shared freely. In fact, people should not routinely carry a Social Security card in their wallet or purse.

Use software with firewall and anti-virus protections.
People should make sure security software is always turned on and can automatically update. They should encrypt sensitive files stored on computers. Sensitive files include things like tax records, school transcripts and college applications. They should use strong, unique passwords for each account. They should also be sure all family members have comprehensive anti-virus protection for their devices, particularly on shared devices.

Learn to recognize and avoid scams.
Everyone should be on the lookout for scams. Thieves use phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts to pose as IRS employees or other legitimate government or law enforcement agencies. People should remember to never click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails. If someone calls asking for personal information, people should not to give out such details.

  • Protect personal data.
    Adults should advise children and teens and other young users to shop at reputable online retailers. They should treat personal information like cash and shouldn’t leave it lying around.
  • Know the risk of public Wi-Fi.
    Connection to public Wi-Fi is convenient and often free, but it may not be safe. Hackers and cybercriminals can easily steal personal information from these networks. Always use a virtual private network when connecting to public Wi-Fi.

More information:
Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers

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