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Items filtered by date: February 2018
Tuesday, 27 February 2018 15:38

Change Your Security Question Answers Now

The Password Security Answers You Should Not Use

Protect Your Identity and Account Logins

In 2008, a 20-year-old college student hacked the Yahoo! email account for then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin because he was able to figure out the answers to her password security questions by using Google searches to find her ZIP code, birthdate, and where she met her husband. Today, with so much of our personal information available on social media, strong passwords are no longer enough to divert hackers because many common security questions are not as secure as they once were. 

Hackers Can Easily Learn About Your Online

In addition to using search engines to research information about you, hackers can easily find answers to some of the most common security questions by analyzing your social media profiles. Standard security questions no longer truly help to keep your account safe when the answers can be easily found online.

Here is a list of the information hackers can find out about you from your social media accounts:

  • Your mother's maiden name
  • Your father's middle name
  • The name of your first pet
  • Your first car
  • The first elementary school you attended
  • The name of the town where you were born

Therefore, you should not use the actual answers to these typical security questions. 

It would be easier if organizations would ask questions that are not so easy to figure out, but the challenge is to avoid asking security questions that are too difficult for us to remember. "The problem with all security questions, no matter how difficult they are, is they are intended to be simpler to use than passwords because the question itself is supposed to trigger your memory," said The Journal of Accountancy.

To protect your accounts, consider choosing alternative answers to security questions that cannot be easily researched or guessed. For example, instead of providing your mother's ­actual maiden name, create an answer that resembles her name but is memorable. This approach may defeat the purpose of simpler security questions, but it will most likely would result in greater security.

As you attempt to become more creative with answers to security questions, consider using a password manager. Here's a list of Tech Radar's top five password management tools (read their review):

  1. LastPass
  2. Dashlane
  3. RoboForm
  4. KeePass Password Safe
  5. Sticky Password

It's time to reconsider the answers you provide for your online accounts. Be proactive. Create substitute your actual answers with creative ones that you can remember (or save in a password manager), and discourage hackers from stealing your information.

Published in Scams
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 00:22

Beware of IRS Taxpayer Scams

The Latest Scam Alert: Scams Targeting Taxpayers

The IRS Urges Taxpayers to Watch Out for Erroneous Refunds; Beware of Fake Calls to Return Money to a Collection Agency

On February 2nd, the Internal Revenue Service warned taxpayers of a quickly growing scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited into their bank accounts. The IRS also offered a step-by-step explanation for how to return the funds and avoid being scammed.

Following up on a Security Summit alert, the IRS issued this additional warning about the new scheme after discovering more tax practitioners’ computer files have been breached. In addition, the number of potential taxpayer victims jumped from a few hundred to several thousand in just days. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division continues its investigation into the scope and breadth of this scheme. These criminals have a new twist on an old scam. After stealing client data from tax professionals and filing fraudulent tax returns, these criminals use the taxpayers' real bank accounts for the deposit. Thieves are then using various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers, and their versions of the scam may continue to evolve.

See IR-2018-27

Know How to Identify IRS Scams

According to the IRS, taxpayers have lost millions of dollars as well as their personal information due to tax scams. And no one is truly safe if they are unaware of what scammers can do. Scammers are quite clever at using postal mail, telephone (both landlines and cell numbers), or email to prey upon individuals, businesses, payroll, and tax professionals.

Published in Scams
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 17:31

Don’t Get Scammed Online for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is today, February 14. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers tips for protecting yourself online before, during and after the “day of love”:

  • Be wary of "too good to be true" deals. Free flower bouquet offers, all-expense paid trips, free gift cards – if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Slow down and think twice before clicking on such deals, especially around holidays.
  • Recognize an online dating scam artist. Online dating is more popular than ever. Look for signs that your suitor may be only interested in your money – if they press you to leave the dating website you met through and to communicate using personal e-mail or instant messaging, profess instant feelings of love, or ask for money for a variety of suspicious reasons.
  • Protect yourself and your personal information. Limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely. Be careful of where and when you choose to meet someone you’ve met online. Pick public places, let others know where you are going beforehand, and be cautious of what personal information you provide about yourself early on in a date.

Be aware, be prepared. Happy Valentine's Day!

Published in Scams

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