Pamela Kweller RSSA Staff
We are in the midst of holiday shopping season and we are approaching tax season, which makes this the time to be extra vigilant and to take extra precautions to protect our personal and financial information.
November 4th through December 3rd was the 5th annual National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS and the Security Summit used that week as a platform to raise awareness about scams and identity theft schemes.
This year we have the added factors of COVID-19 and an increased number of people working remotely, which make scams more prevalent. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig recently stated, “This is generally the hunting season for online thieves, but this year there’s a dangerous combination of factors at play that should make people more alert.”
The IRS encourages us to take a few simple steps to protect our personal and financial data and our identity.
The IRS suggests these tips:
- Use updated security software on your electronic devices
- Don’t open links or attachments on suspicious emails
- Use strong and unique passwords for online accounts
- Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible
- Don’t shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi in places like a mall or restaurant
- At home, secure home Wi-Fis with a password
The Social Security Administration also wants you to be aware of scams, specifically ones related to your Social Security information. The SSA wants you to be cautious of telephone impersonation calls. According to the SSA, “These calls include scammers pretending to be government employees or requesting cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for purported Social Security number problems.”
The Commissioner of SSA, Andrew Saul, was recently interviewed by PBS’s Next Avenue and in the interview he made it clear that these scams are not going away and the customer has to be on the lookout for these scams. If you encounter a scam, his recommendation is to hang up immediately. Saul says, “Don’t give them any information. That’s the key.”
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will never threaten you, suspend your Social Security Number, or demand immediate payment. The SSA will not call you on the phone unless you have a pre-scheduled call or have ongoing business with the agency. Scammers will look and sound official, but they are not. It is important that you know what to look for and what to do in the situation.
If you think you are being scammed:
- Hang up the phone
- Do not provide or verify personal information
- Do not provide payment information
- Do not call the number back
Scams are common, which is why it is important to know what you can do to protect yourself. Spread the word to your family and your friends!