As holiday sales start to roll out, we’re all tempted to avoid the bustle at our local mall and shop from the comfort of our own homes. If you plan on shopping online anytime during the holiday season, then you may be more prone to identity theft.
Shoppers are more likely to impulse buy without double checking the security of websites or their bank statements. The Internal Revenue Service recognizes this probably every year and wants to keep taxpayers safe. Here are some ways to shop smarter in the coming weeks – especially online.
Be sure you are shopping with reputable online retailers. The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start if you’ve never heard of a retailer and want to check their status. You can also do a general internet search for customer reviews of the company.
A great way to easily catch a fishy website is to look for the “s” in “https” which stands for security. Always check the URL – for example, https://www.irs.gov – before sharing any information about your identity or your credit card/bank information. The “https” means the site uses secured, encrypted technology.
Always review financial statements. Do so often, we recommend once a week, and quickly alert your financial institution if you notice any unauthorized charges or withdrawals. This will avoid further charges and further identity theft from taking place.
This might seem obvious, but don’t use public Wi-Fi to shop online. Unsecured hotspots can be used by thieves to peek at your transactions. Do not make online purchases or financial transactions while on a public connection.
Keep an eye on your inbox and it will likely fill with all kinds of “special” offers that you never requested. Avoid clicking on links within emails from unknown sources or downloading any attachments. Beware of emails asking you to update your accounts, for example from your credit card company, bank, tax software provider or internet provider.
Another useful tip is to skip online employment offers. Along with retail special offers in your inbox, the holiday season also brings special, unsolicited job offers. They may seem promising, but they often are ruses to steal your identity. Think before providing your Social Security number, financial information or identity information to any online source.
We hope this helps you prepare for upcoming shopping sprees. If you find yourself in the middle of a threat to your identity, be sure to freeze your accounts and contact your financial institution for further help. Tax Defense Partners is here to assist in case this affects your tax situation. Contact us today if you are facing tax problems!