David Lerner Associates: IRS Data Theft and the Need to Protect your Personal Information
According to CNN, the U.S. Treasury has released a revised and far scarier picture of the cyber-attack suffered by the IRS last year. Initially, it was thought that just over 100,000 people were affected by the incident, but now they’re saying it was over 700,000.
That raises the issue of online security and the need to protect your information, as well as staying alert to tax scams as we head into another tax season.
And despite the fact that security is on high alert in the government agency, they recently released a public statement saying, “We need your help.” In other words, we all have a role to play in securing our personal data and thwarting the efforts of cyber criminals.
Here are some simple things that can be done to stay safe:
1. Don't be fooled
If you receive a call, an email, or even a text from a tax agency, they're scams. Federal and state tax authorities would never contact you out of the blue and threaten you with penalties, lawsuits, or jail, if you don't share your bank account number or send money right away. The same is true of threatening solicitations that purport to be from your bank. All of these situations would require official mail being sent to your address on file.
Don’t click on links
If you receive an email from someone pretending to be a tax or financial institution with action that “must be taken immediately” -- don’t click on the link. Attachments to these emails often contain aggressive software that can steal your log-in information.
Use anti-virus software, encryption software, and shred paperwork whenever possible. Take the necessary steps to safeguard your personal information. IBM recently released a study that showed the average consolidated cost of a data breach is $3.8 million.
Check your credit report and Social Security earnings record at least once a year to make sure no one else is using your credit or Social Security number for employment or other purposes.
5. Privacy is a good thing
While the youth of today has made it the norm to broadcast their every thought on social media, don't ever post personal details. For example, your address, your bank, maiden name, or anything else that makes it easier for criminals to hijack your identity along with data they may already have on you.
Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.
Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable-- we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.
David Lerner Associates does not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances.
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Founded in 1976, David Lerner Associates is a privately-held broker/dealer with headquarters in Syosset, New York and branch offices in Westport, CT; Boca Raton, FL; Teaneck and Princeton, NJ; and White Plains, NY. For more information contact David Lerner Associates Call 516-921-4200 Visit our website: www.davidlerner.com