The US government issues everyone a Social Security number. It’s critically important that you keep your number a secret from everyone because it’s very easy for criminals to commit identity fraud if they access your personal information.
The internet is full of scammers and hackers who are trying to get their hands on your info, though. So, how do you keep your Social Security number and your tax information safe?
Before you ever put your information into a website’s form, make sure you know that you’re on a site you trust. Even if the site looks right, double-check the URL in the address bar to verify that it matches up with what it’s supposed to say. Hackers are very good at creating fake websites that look convincing in order to harvest sensitive information.
You can often avoid these types of sites by never opening emails from addresses you don’t recognize and by navigating to each site you’re visiting by typing in their official URL in the address bar. In addition to this, you should never give out your personal information over chat applications. Tech support and chat help specialists generally won’t need your Social Security number, so anyone asking for your personal info is likely a scammer.
When you’re browsing the web, make sure you have antivirus software and firewall services running. Many online data security companies offer these services. Windows 10 computers, for instance, actually come pre-installed with Windows Defender. That’s Microsoft’s proprietary antivirus program, which goes a long way toward keeping your computer safe from the nastiest viruses.
Viruses like keyloggers and spyware are able to actively spy on your online activity. They can take in your information when you’re filling out sensitive forms like your taxes or your medical information. Avoiding these is critical to staying safe online.
Don’t fall for scams that claim you’ll become fabulously wealthy if you put in your bank account information and Social Security number. No one online is trying to deposit a huge sum of cash into your bank account. Anyone claiming that this is their plan is just scamming you. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it is.
Just use common sense and avoid the seedier parts of the web and your information will stay safe. Remember: treat your sensitive info like you would your cash, and don’t just leave it lying around where anyone could grab it.