October is National Cybersecurity Month, so we thought it would be a great time to send out a reminder to be aware of those “bad actors” out there that are putting so much energy into stealing anything and everything they can from innocent and unaware users of technology.

Know that the IRS takes identity theft very seriously. They along with the Security Summit, which is made up of representatives of the software industry, tax preparation firms, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators work year round to protect tax payers form these criminals who file fraudulent returns for refunds.

They have recommended a taking a few measures which could potentially protect your personal data from these criminals.

Recognize and avoid scams. These come in common form as phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from scammers who pose as the IRS or legitimate organizations asking for information that is none of their business or giving people the sense of urgency, that action must be taken or something is going to go very wrong. Remember, these people are thieves. They have no conscience and will go to great extents to get your information.

Do not give out information to anybody over the phone, text or via email. The IRS or any other legitimate organization will never contact you this way and certainly wouldn’t pressure into providing such private and protected information in an unsecure manner.

You should also use social media and other public platforms with caution. Providing too much information is just that, TMI. Scammers love to take the information you share to try to build a connection with you, creating a false sense of security and, viola! The door is open. Did I forget to mention these are criminals with no conscience? Birthdates, addresses, age, financial information, and social security numbers are things that should never be shared freely.

More people are working remotely now than ever, creating a mass pool of victims of cybersecurity for those who take advantage of the convenience of public wi-fi connections. Know this, if something is free, YOU are the product. These wi-fi connections are not safe. Hackers and cybercriminals can easily intercept your personal information in an instant. When using public wi-fi, always use a VPN connection.

You should always use security software with a firewall and anti-virus protection that automatically updates. And, use strong, unique passwords for every account associated with your network.

It’s not just the ghost and goblins to be aware of…watch out for those “bad actors”! BWHAHAHAHA!!!!