Cyber threat is an increasing concern for every individual and business in the world. Instances of identity theft and corporate data breaches are rising. The best plan of action to minimize any potential threat that we can control is to be diligent and perform a cyber assessment. First, understand what information needs to be protected. Most important are: Social Security number, driver’s license number or state-issued identification card, financial account numbers, and credit/debit card numbers. Then review the following Identity Theft Protection Tips:

Password protect your financial accounts. A strong password should be more than eight characters in length, and contain both capital letters and at least one numeric or other non-alphabetical character. Use of non-dictionary words is also recommended. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. In addition, passwords should be changed frequently.

Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact. There have been increased telephone calls from individuals claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. DO NOT respond to these individuals. The IRS always corresponds via the United States post office. If you have any question about your tax account, please contact us.

Phishing emails are an online scam and look extremely legitimate. Typically there is an attachment and if filled out, goes directly to the crooks behind the scam. NEVER open an attachment if you are not confident who the sender is, or if you are not expecting a known sender to include an attachment. Also, be sure to check the domain of the sender’s email. For example jsmith@anycompany.com may appear to be the sender, but when you hover over the address, a different one may show.  

Often times, fake  IRS letters circulate via email.Remember: never believe a call or email from the IRS because they do all notifications by mail. Please read this LINK on ‘how to spot fake IRS letters’.

Tips:

  • Use a cross-cut shredder to dispose of documents containing personal information.
  • Reduce the number of preapproved credit card offers you receive by calling: 888-5OPT-OUT
  • Place outgoing mail in collection boxes or the U.S. Post Office.
  • Know your billing cycles and contact creditors when bills fail to show up. Review bank and credit card statements carefully.
  • Use firewall software to protect computer information. Keep virus and spyware software programs updated.
  • Order your free annual credit reports on-line at: www.annualcreditreport.com. Massachusetts residents are entitled to one free copy per year of their credit report.

Here at Anthony & Dodge, PC, we are diligent in the protection of our clients’ sensitive personal information. We use ShareFile for secure electronic transfer of data between our firm and our clients and to attach documents securely via email. We advise you when sending any documents with personal information to us, please make sure that they are sent securely. Please contact us for more information on ShareFile.