Be Aware of Phishing Scams Related to IRS Tax Season
Internet criminals will take advantage of the upcoming Federal tax deadline to try and steal your personal, sensitive and confidential information. The Texas Tech University Office of the CIO urges you to be aware and use caution with any communication that uses the IRS name, logo, or website, and requests confidential information from you. According to the IRS website, the "IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels."
One of the most common tax scams informs the recipient that he or she is eligible to receive a tax refund for a given amount. The email instructs the recipient to click on a link provided to enter personal and financial information in order to receive the refund. Also be cautious of emails that might look like they are sent from an online tax preparation service.
Warning signs that an email is an attempt to steal your identity:
- Requests personal and/or financial information; such as name, SSN, bank/credit card account numbers;
- Requests security-related information, such as mother's maiden name, password, or PIN;
- Offers a special tax refund program available by email;
- Invites you to participate in an IRS survey and receive a stipend or discount on taxes owed;
- Threatens a consequence - additional taxes or frozen tax refunds - for not responding to the email;
- Misspells "Internal Revenue Service" or tax preparation service name in the email text or link supplied; and/or
- References an IRS link that does not contain http://www.irs.gov - to see the actual link address, place your mouse over the link text without clicking.
If you receive a suspicious email claiming to come from the IRS, take the following steps:
- Do not reply to the email;
- Do not open any attachments to the email or click on any links;
- Forward the suspicious email to the IRS at email@example.com; and
- Delete the message once you have reported it.
For more safe computing information please contact IT Help Central at (806)742-HELP (4357).
Welcome to Safe Computing
You know who you are... who else does?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifiable information (PII) without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
Follow the link below to understand more about:
- How identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal your identity
- How to Protect your identity
- Common Consumer Mistakes
- Reporting Suspect Identity Theft
- Tips for Shopping Online
Securing access to your electronic information... PRICELESS
Your passwords are the electronic equivalent to the locks on your house. Developing strong passwords will keep your personal information and identity more secure. These are suggestions for creating heavy-duty passwords:
- Use at least eight characters with a mix of numbers, letters, and special characters (!,@,#, etc);
- Substitute numbers for letters in a word or phrase that you will remember;
- Do not use the same password for all your professional and personal business; and
- Remember to change your password regularly.
The Importance of One: Security Starts with You
As a computer user your important sensitive data and computer is being exposed to attacks which may lead to loss of data efforts and time. Understanding the causes will help you to prevent and fix these infections in your computer.
The various ways your computer could be infected are by:
- Trojan Horses
Reach out with caution
Knowing how to recognize email fraud and educating yourself about current hoaxes and scams can help you avoid becoming a victim.
Understand the following to prevent Email Frauds:
- Recognizing Online Scams and Fraud
- Common Hoaxes and Scams
- E-mail Spoofing
- Recommended Practices
- Email Password Tips
Private Eyes: Who is watching you online?
Spyware is software written specifically to obtain personal information from your computer. In the process, spyware can destroy your data, steal confidential information, and create unneeded hassle.
Follow the link below to understand more about:
- How Spyware Invades
- Recognizing and Removing Spyware
- Common Spyware Methods
- Common Spyware Traps
Safe Computing on the Go
Laptops, smartphones, and tablets provide convenience and mobility in our business and personal world today. If your device is stolen, you could lose more than an expensive piece of equipment, you could lose your identity and personal security.
Keep these tips in mind when using your mobile devices:
- Use a startup PIN or password to protect your device.
- Encrypt any confidential business information stored on the device.
- Consider subscribing to a “data wipe service” to protect your information in the event your device is lost or stolen
Social networking tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are a great way to share information and keep in touch. Unfortunately, like other emerging technologies, social networking sites have become easy targets for Internet criminals
Keep these tips in mind when using social networking sites:
- Carefully guard your private information.
- Don’t allow public access to your information on social networking site.
- Think before posting photos or making comments.
- Check comments regularly and delete those that are offensive.
Just because you own a copy, does not mean you own the copyright.
Copyright infringement, or piracy, is the unauthorized, unlawful copying and use of literature, software, video games, movies, or music. Copyright law gives the creator the sole authority to reproduce or distribute the created work.
Visit these resources for additional information:
- Federal Copyright Reference
- Texas Tech Copyright Reference.
- DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).
The TTU Office of the CIO developed the Safe Computing Practices Campaign for Texas Tech University and the surrounding communities to raise awareness and promote education. Our goal is to empower people with knowledge and tools to combat Internet-based security threats.
We welcome your suggestions and ideas as we reach out to the TTU community and the Lubbock area.