WASHINGTON, DC - Coming fast on the heels of 'Black Friday', the phenomenon known as 'Cyber Monday' -- for many -- serves as a key launch point of the holiday shopping season. Unfortunately, online thieves use the digital dynamic to take advantage of some of many the millions of online shoppers, stealing their personal information and packaging it as their own.
The IRS and its partners in the Security Summit advise consumers to take basic steps to protect their identities, financial accounts, computers and mobile devices, including:
- Shopping 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 shopping on unsecured public wi-fi. This helps to prevent thieves from eavesdropping. Instead, use secure home wi-fi with a password.
- Using security software for computers and mobile phones, and keeping it updated. Make sure anti-virus software has a feature to stop malware and there is a firewall that can prevent intrusions.
- Not handing out personal information. Phishing scams, imposter emails, calls and texts are the number one way thieves steal personal data.
- Not opening links or attachments on suspicious emails.
- Using strong, unique, yet easily remembered passwords are safest for online accounts.
- Using two-factor authentication whenever possible. Many email providers and social media sites offer this feature to help prevent thieves from easily hacking accounts.
- Backing 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.