Preventative Measures For Your Online Security During COVID-19

Maura Schauss |
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By Maura C. Schauss, CFP® and Todd I. Youngdahl, CFP®

Keeping your information secure online is critical every day, but especially during times of crisis. Unfortunately, predators take advantage of these kinds of situations in order to get information or money from people. However, there are some things you can do to protect yourself online from scams and combat this issue head-on.

How To Spot An IRS Scam

A scam or cybercrime, specifically with individuals posing as the IRS, can be noted in a couple of different ways. Some scammers might try to get you to share your Social Security number through an email, a robocall, or fake phone calls.

According to the IRS website[1]: “The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information.”

If you suspect that someone is trying to scam you:

  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a phone scam. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting page or call 800-366-4484.
  • Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • Report an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or an IRS-related component like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

Protecting Yourself From Coronavirus Scams

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlined some ways in which you can protect yourself against coronavirus scams[2]:

  • Don’t respond to texts, emails, or calls about checks from the government.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. There are no products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 at this time.
  • Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO. Use sites like coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus to get the latest information.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations. Never donate in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money.[3]

Protecting Yourself Online

Protecting yourself from online scammers and hackers is crucial. Here are some key ways to protect your accounts, identity, and personal information online: Keep your software updated as computer software is updated often to help protect against hackers and malware.

  1. Keep your personal information such as SSN, passwords, date of birth, credit card numbers, and full name secure by making sure that websites you visit are legitimate and have a reason for asking for that information.
  2. Only share information with websites that are encrypted. You can see if a website is encrypted by making sure the URL begins with “https.”
  3. As a best practice NEVER click on links received in emails.
  4. Turn on two-factor authentication. This means that a website requires you to use your password and either a text message by phone or code sent to an email address.

At Washington Wealth Advisors , we believe it is important to educate our clients on topics as this. We want to bring you information that helps you protect your assets in all facets of life.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding what you’ve read today, or if you’d like to learn more about our services, please feel free to contact our office at 703.584.2700 or email us to schedule a time to talk.

About Washington Wealth Advisors

Washington Wealth Advisors is an independent registered investment advisory firm serving high net worth families and small businesses. We focus on holistic financial planning and comprehensive investment management. Leveraging our core strengths of unbiased, active investment management together with a detailed annual financial planning capability, we serve your comprehensive investment and financial planning needs.

 

[2]https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/sites/www.consumer.ftc.gov/files/keep_calm_infographic_en_letter_508.pdf