This is a critical time of the year. First you have Black Friday, then Small Business Saturday, then Cyber Monday, then Giving Tuesday, and you get the picture. And after the holidays are over, it’s prep time for tax season. There’s financial information being sent back and forth everywhere!
Between all the online and in-person shopping, charitable donations and tax information, scam artists are foaming at the mouth. They’re looking to steal taxpayer identities, personal information and money.
And in the Benefits world, financial well-being leads and mental health well-being go hand in hand. If employees’ finances are compromised, they’re going to be stressed. To help keep their financial information safe, give employees these steps from the IRS.
The feds team up with Security Summit partners to provide steps employees and employers can take to keep their information protected. It’s part of the Security Summit, which is in its sixth year. It takes place from Nov. 29 through Dec. 3. And each day highlights a different safety topic.
Here are 10 steps to protect any important personal and financial information:
- Use security software on all devices (computers, tablets and phones) for all family members, especially teens, tweens and those even younger. And don’t forget to update it.
- Verify the anti-virus software you use has a feature to stop malware, and that your firewall prevents intrusions.
- Watch for phishing scams. Hackers steal your personal info via fake emails, calls and texts. Don’t fall for them. If in doubt, even just a little, don’t open any links or attachments. And thanks to COVID-19, thieves are using the Economic Impact Payments and other tax law changes as major avenues for their fraud scams. Be careful!
- Bolster your passwords by making them unique. Either use a password manager or a series of words you’ll easily remember.
- Prevent hackers from breaking into your accounts with multi-factor authentication, if its available.
- Only make purchases on secure sites. That means the web address must start with “https” – the “s” stands for secure communications – and there’s a padlock icon in the browser window.
- Don’t use unsecured public Wi-Fi to shop because hackers can watch what you’re doing.
- Secure your home Wi-Fi with a strong password. Use a combination of all of these to create your password: capital and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. It’s important your password is extremely strong, because if you have wireless printers, door locks and thermometers, thieves can gain access through all of them.
- Use a cloud service or external hard drive to back up everything on your devices. That way if something happens and you can’t access your financial info on your devices, you still have them secured elsewhere.
- If employees work from home, have them create or provide them with a virtual private network (VPN) to securely access workplace serves.