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A Guide to Your Cybersecurity

Tips and Advice for Preventing Online Fraud and Theft

Beware of Tax Season Scams

IRS impersonators are at it again. This time, instead of contacting you about a tax debt and making threats to get you to pay up, the scammers are sending messages about your “tax refund” or “tax refund e-statement.” It might look legit, but it’s a scam. The IRS won’t contact you by email, text message, or social media to get your personal or financial information.

If someone contacts you unexpectedly about a tax refund, remember these tips:

  • Never click on links or open attachments in unexpected texts or emails. 
    Clicking could expose you to scams, download malware, or get your phone number added to lists that are then sold to other criminals. Delete the text messages & emails immediately.

  • Never share financial or personal information with anyone who contacts you out of the blue.
    The IRS and other government agencies will never call, text, message you on social media, or email to ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number.

  • Don’t respond at all to the text or email.
    If you ever want to confirm that the IRS is actually contacting you, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040. You can also visit the IRS website,, to use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool to determine if you are really getting a refund.

  • Report potential scams.
    Forward email messages or phone numbers that claim to be from the IRS to Do not open the attachments or click on any links in those emails.

  • Share what you know.
    By talking about potential scams with your friends and neighbors you may be protecting them from making a devastating mistake.

Protect Your Online Information
The internet offers access to a world of products and services, entertainment, and information. At the same time, it creates opportunities for scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. Learn how to protect your computer, your information, and your online files.

Update Your Software. Outdated software is easier for criminals to break into. Keep your software – including your operating system, the web browsers you use to connect to the Internet, and your apps – up to date to protect against the latest threats. Most software can update automatically, so make sure to set yours to do so.

Protect Your Personal Information. In an effort to steal your information, scammers will do everything they can to appear trustworthy. Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. So every time you are asked for your personal information – whether in a web form, an email, a text, or a phone message – think about why someone needs it and whether you can really trust the request. 

Protect Your Passwords. Here are a few ideas for creating strong passwords and keeping them safe:

  • Use at least 10 characters; 12 is ideal for most home users.
  • Try to be unpredictable – don’t use names, dates, or common words. Mix numbers, symbols, and capital letters into the middle of your password, not at the beginning or end.
  • Don’t use the same password for many accounts. If it’s stolen from you – or from one of the companies where you do business – thieves can use it to take over all your accounts.
  • Don’t share passwords on the phone, in texts or by email. Legitimate companies will not ask you for your password.
  •  If you write down a password, keep it locked up, out of plain sight.
  • Change your passwords every 90 days.

Consider Turning On Two-Factor Authentication. For accounts that support it, two-factor authentication requires both your password and an additional piece of information to log in to your account. The second piece could be a code sent to your phone or a random number generated by an app or a token. This protects your account even if your password is compromised.

Give Personal Information Over Encrypted Websites Only. If you’re shopping or banking online, stick to sites that use encryption to protect your information as it travels from your computer to their server. To determine if a website is encrypted, look for https at the beginning of the web address. That means the site is more secure.

Back Up Your Files. No system is completely secure. Copy your files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. If your computer is attacked by malware, you’ll still have access to your files. 

Monitor Your Credit Files and Account Statements Closely.  If you feel your information has been compromised, contact your financial institution immediately.  Citizens Bank customers, contact your local Branch or call (844) 770-7100.  If you have disclosed sensitive information in a phishing attack, you should also contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a fraud alert on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name. Here is the contact information for each bureau’s fraud division:
  • Equifax:  800-525-6285 
  • Experian:  888-397-3742
  • TransUnion:  800-680-7289

Scam on keyboard
According to an FBI report, last year more than 88,000 victims over the age of 60 reported losses of $3.1 billion to scammers and fraud crimes. Here are some of the most popular scams criminals use to attack seniors:

Paper Airplanes carrying an email
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