Shoppers need to remain on the alert for internet predators and scam artists while working on their holiday shopping list this time of year. As a helpful guide, the IRS has posted the following tips on their website to help protect shoppers doing their on-line shopping this holiday season.
- Shop at sites where the web address begins with “https” – the “s” is for secure communications and look for the padlock icon in the browser window.
- Don’t shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi in places like a mall or restaurant.
- Keep security software for computers, tablets and mobile phones updated.
- Protect the devices of family members, including young children, older adults as well as less technologically savvy users.
- Make sure anti-virus software for computers has a feature to stop malware, and that there is a firewall enabled that can prevent intrusions.
- Use strong and unique passwords for online accounts.
- Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. It helps prevent thieves from easily hacking accounts. The IRS also reminds the tax community that the Federal Trade Commission this summer updated their standards and now requires tax professionals to use multi-factor authentication to protect information.
A few other safeguards to consider:
- Ask your credit card company to provide alerts for total purchases in excess of a set threshold in a month.
- Use your credit card for online purchases and avoid using a debit card. Most credit cards have a payment protection plan in place, debit cards do not.
- Avoid providing your social security number.
- Carefully look at email addresses for validity pertaining to email notifications and solicitations you receive in your email inbox.
- Supervise your children’s online purchases and their use of your credit card while making internet purchases.