Protect Your Information During the Holiday Bustle

NYS Tax Department Shares Tips to Safeguard Sensitive Data While Shopping Online or Donating to Charities

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today encouraged New Yorkers to be wary of cyber grinches while shopping online or donating to charities during the holiday season.

The Tax Department issued this reminder during National Tax Security Awareness Week, an initiative spearheaded by the IRS aimed at educating taxpayers about ways to avoid being victimized by cyber criminals and identity thieves.

“As online shopping and charitable giving increase amid the holiday bustle, it’s critical that we take time to ensure our confidential data isn’t vulnerable,” said Acting Commissioner Nonie Manion. “A few simple precautions can help prevent a less-than-merry holiday experience.”

Protect your computer: Ensure that your computer is secure when accessing your financial accounts online by looking for https (with an s after the http) in the website address.

Use strong passwords: Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols, when creating a new password. Don’t use your name, birthdate, or common words. Use a different password for each of your accounts.

Use secure wireless networks: Always encrypt your wireless network with a strong password. Never access your personal accounts on a public Wi-Fi network.

Know who you’re dealing with: Be familiar with the companies you’re purchasing from and the charities you’re donating to. Limit your activity to those you know and trust. If you’re unsure whether to trust an online retailer, you can check with the Better Business Bureau or Federal Trade Commission. You can also verify New York-based charitable organizations with the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

Review privacy policies: Review the privacy policy for the business or organization you’re visiting to determine what information the merchant is collecting about you, how it will be stored and used, and if it will be shared with others.

Do not auto-save your personal information: This information can be stolen from your browser, making you more susceptible to identity theft.

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