Tax Identity Theft Part IV: Online Security at Home

For families with children and aging parents, it’s important to make sure everyone guards their personal information online and at home. It may be time for “the conversation” to ensure your family is not at risk for identity theft or scams.

  • In families that use the same computer, students should be warned against turning off any security software in use or opening any suspicious emails. They should be instructed to never click on embedded links or download attachments of emails from unknown sources.
  • Identity thieves are just one of many predators lurking on the Internet. In addition, actions by one computer user could infect the machine for all users. That’s of particular concern when dealing with personal financial details or tax information.
  • Kids should be warned against oversharing personal information on social media, as well. Posts about where you live, the new family car or a parent’s new job can give identity thieves that extra bit of information they need to impersonate you.
  • Aging parents also are prime targets for identity thieves. If they’re browsing the Internet, they may need the same conversation about online security, avoiding spam emails and oversharing on social media.

Protecting the Elderly

Seniors are especially vulnerable to scam calls and pressure from fraudulent individuals posing as legitimate organizations, including the Internal Revenue Service, demanding payment for debts not owed. The IRS will never make threats of lawsuit or jail or demand a certain payment method be used such as a debit or credit card.

They may also need someone to routinely review charges on their credit cards or withdrawals from their financial accounts to spot any unauthorized activity. Unused credit cards should be canceled and credit reports reviewed each year at annualcreditreport.com to ensure no new accounts are being opened by thieves. Aging parents should also review their Social Security Administration account to ensure no excessive income is accruing.

Fraudsters will try to trick seniors, telling them they have won a grand prize in a contest or that a relative needs money – anything to persuade a person to give up personal information such as their Social Security number or financial account information.

These simple steps – and an honest conversation – can help the young and old avoid identity theft and ensure their personal information remains private and secure.

For additional information about Tax Identify Theft, please visit www.irs.gov/identitytheft.