There are few things I can think of that have grown in popularity as quickly as Cyber Monday. Well, there was the rise of internet culture … hmm, maybe there’s a connection there or something. It may be no coincidence then that this week is also National Tax Security Week and Thursday, November 30 is Computer Security Day.
Contrary to how this may sound, I am not coming in this week with tales of doom and gloom as I try to push you away from joining the virtual world or shopping online. After all, it takes zero argument to convince me that taking advantage of Cyber Monday deals makes much more sense, and is much less maddening, than waiting in lines before the sun rises on Black Friday. I’m clearly not alone in this, as this past Monday set a record mark for online shopping.
I do, however, think that there are certain easy, common-sense acts that we can all take to help ensure that we stay safe while enjoying the conveniences this new technological world has brought us. This is an arena where we can talk about one of those things that the IRS does well, and that is stay on top of security issues and pass along good advice when it comes to the subject. They do, after all, handle a rather large amount of critical information.
So if this is something that interests you, visit their tax tips web page this week as they, er, celebrate Tax Security Week.
For those who don’t care that much, or remain too weighed down by Thanksgiving leftovers to put that much effort into extra clicks, I wanted to highlight a few of the tips that are on the simpler side, but that some may not know, and everyone could benefit from a reminder.
So when it comes to online shopping, pay attention to where you are shopping. Use retailers that you trust, or do a quick Google search to research one if using it for the first time. And even when using a retailer that you do trust, give an extra look at your browser. Many sites exist to look like the popular sites you enjoy, but exist solely to gather information from you. An extra peek at the URL bar ensures that the website address is the site that you believe you are on. Also give an extra look to the beginning of the address. Sites that start with an “https” are usually secure. Any sites that do not carry that “s” at the end are ones you want to avoid when it comes to transactions.
And finally, be careful about info into a site if you are using an unprotected Wi-Fi network. If you can access a public hotspot, that means anyone else can also use that hotspot and that makes it much easier for those who want to track what is happening through those connections. Chances are waiting until you get somewhere more secure is going to be easier to deal with than what you will have to do if someone nabs your personal info.
So don’t so fearful as to keep yourself from enjoying what technology brings us, but a little vigilance is always worth the effort.
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To ensure we don't make the folks at the IRS ornery, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.