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  • Avoid IRS Imposter Scams This Tax Season

    While IRS imposter scams happen year-round, they are particularly prevalent during tax season and in times of crisis (ex: scams related to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic). These imposter scams can lead to tax fraud and identity theft -- here's how to identify and avoid them. SCAM #1: PHISHING Phishing is an attempt to obtain sensitive information or payment (usernames, passwords, account details, etc.) by scammers impersonating a reputable company -- in this case, the IRS. Once these credentials are acquired, scammers can use the information to withdraw money from your accounts, apply for benefits/other accounts in your name, and much more. Be on the lookout for fake IRS emails that want you to input private information to collect a tax refund or a pandemic stimulus payment, pay overdue taxes, or apply for benefits. A GOOD RULE OF THUMB: The IRS will never email you or text you to discuss tax debts or refunds. The IRS may call you to set up an appointment, but they won't do so without sending you a letter first. If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be the IRS, do not reply, click any links, or open any attachments. By doing so, you may be unknowingly installing malicious software onto your device. *IF YOU RECEIVE AN EMAIL FROM THE "IRS," DON'T EVEN CLICK ON IT... IT IS NOT THE IRS* Do not provide any personal information in response to an email or a text (or through any digital communication) SCAM #2: FRAUDULENT PHONE CALLS Scammers who are claiming to be the IRS will often call saying you owe taxes. They demand you pay this bill through a gift card, prepaid debit card, or wire transfer. They may also call saying that you are eligible to receive COVID-related benefits, and will ask for personal account information in order to send the payment. Here's how to tell if you're dealing with a scammer: They demand immediate payment and will often offer to assist you in sending this payment They use aggressive tactics (scare tactics) that are extremely threatening in nature. They may threaten arrest, deportation, or license revocation They request any account numbers (debit, credit, or bank account) SCAM #3: IDENTITY THEFT Scammers can steal your personal information for illegal, fraudulent activities, like filing a tax return in your name. A growing scam involves criminals stealing client data from tax professionals, or by obtaining your tax software login information to file a tax return and have it deposited into a bank account (that isn't yours). Here's how to avoid this scam: Use a unique name/password for tax filing software, and update it annually Do not share your Social Security number with others unless absolutely necessary Shred any sensitive documents when you discard them Review your credit report every year to confirm the list of credit accounts is accurate If you fall for a tax scam, do not panic. Report identity theft to IdentityTheft.gov. If your Social Security number is stolen, contact the IRS immediately. You can also file a complaint at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/assistant. Stay vigilant, stay aware, stay safe.

  • Avoid this email scam and secure your facebook account

    Most of us have probably received an email at some point from Facebook saying, "someone is trying to log onto your account." The feeling of dread that comes upon you in that moment is gut-wrenching and hard to shake. It feels like a serious invasion of privacy, which is why we are typically so quick to act. HOWEVER... you must be alert when it comes to these emails. All too often, scammers use this as a way to hack into a victim's account or get information out of them. Before you click on the link in the email to "secure your account," check out some of the warning signs below. Looks kind of legit, right? The red text in the photo above points out obvious ways to confirm whether or not the email can be trusted. 1) The email subject doesn't make sense and is grammatically incorrect. Sometimes, it will contain emojis. I can promise you one thing: Facebook will never send you an email with a subject that has emojis. 2) The email address is crazy looking and is un-readable. For anything security-related, the email will come from security@facebookmail.com. Any other email address is fraudulent. 3) Check the "sent to" email address! If it does not say your actual email address, it was probably sent out to many, many people. Hackers do this because they expect at least one person to fall victim. 4) Check the display name. In the above email, it shows that their display name is "Hi." This should be the biggest red flag in and of itself. 5) They didn't use my full name in the email. Instead, they used the first part of my email address. Facebook/Instagram/Twitter will always use your name and not the first part of your email address (the part before the @ sign). 6) There will never be two options to choose from when it comes to securing your account. There will always just be one option that prompts you to enter a code to change your password. 7 - bonus!) The hacker sent this to an email address that isn't even associated with my Facebook account. Big whoops on their part. Before you respond to one of these emails, always go to Facebook privacy settings to see where you're logged in. If you notice something there that seems suspicious, you will be able to log out of all devices/sessions and reset your password. See the below screenshot for reference: If you notice a log-in from a suspicious location or a device you don't recognize, immediately log out of all sessions and reset your password. To get to this screen, follow the steps below: 1) Click the small "down" arrow in the upper right-hand corner 2) Click "Settings and Privacy" 3) Click "Settings" 4) Click "Security and Login" from the lefthand side menu 5) View all of your active sessions! To ensure ultimate safety, it is best to set up two-factor authentication. This will send your phone/email a code every time someone tries to log on to your account. I have also installed an authentication app called "Duo" that further secures my account -- I encourage you all to download it as well! There is a new scam going around where hackers take possession of your social media profiles and demand a ransom to give you back control of your account. These ransoms can reach over $1,000 in some cases. It's better to be safe than sorry -- always make sure your account is locked down. Continually perform self-checks to make sure you're only logged into your personal devices, set up two-factor authentication, and be wary of suspicious emails from Facebook!

  • Keeping up with email scams

    Recently, someone very close to me fell victim to an email scam that gave the hacker full remote access to their computer (super scary, I know). These email scams can look incredibly realistic, so it's important to be able to distinguish between what's legit and what's not. These emails attempt to fool you into visiting a website to either download malware or reveal sensitive personal information. The perpetrators of phishing scams craft the website to look like the real thing. Here's how to protect yourself from these scams: 1) Stay informed on the latest phishing techniques! Being informed on the latest scams can help you avoid a potentially scary situation. Be wary of emails asking for your password, emails with misspelled words or grammatical errors (if an email comes from a legitimate site like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Instagram, etc. it more than likely will NOT have any spelling or grammatical errors), emails that contain a suspicious link for you to click, emails that promise you money if you click on a link, emails that say, "We've been trying to reach you about ____," the list goes on and on. Basically, be cautious when clicking on any link in ANY email. Most phishing emails start with, "Dear Customer," so that can be very indicative of an email you DON'T want to open. 2) Install an anti-phishing toolbar (from a trusted site). Most internet browsers these days will allow you to install such a toolbar -- these toolbars are completely free and will alert you if you attempt to visit a site that is malicious. This is just an extra layer of protection against phishing scams! You can download anti-phishing software here: https://www.avira.com/en/avira-browser-safety 3) Keep your browser up-to-date. Security patches are released for browsers on a fairly regular basis. These patches are released to account for any security loopholes that hackers and phishers are using to exploit innocent victims. Never ignore messages about updating your browser -- when an update is available, download it and install it immediately. 4) Never give out personal information. In general, you should never share personal or financial information over the internet. If something seems phishy, it probably is. ALWAYS go to the main page of the company in question and call their customer service line to verify whether or not they actually contacted you. Never send an email with sensitive information to anyone. If you do have to submit info online, make sure the website is secure by checking to see if it has "https" in front of the URL. For more in-depth information on what to look out for regarding email phishing scams, visit the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team website here.

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  • Mental Health | Know Your Net

    mental health and social media While social media has revolutionized the world, it has proven to have a significant negative impact on our health and well-being. In this module, we will take a look at how social media negatively impacts our mental health and what can be done to curb social media dependency. A deep dive into "Instagram Depression" Millennials and Gen Z'ers grew up with access to the internet and a slew of different hi-tech gadgets. New research suggests that the increased amount of hours this generation spends online directly correlates with an uptick in teen depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as other psychological disorders. In the #StatusOfMind survey published by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health, 1,479 young people answered questions about how social media platforms influenced different issues related to their mental or physical health. While there were some benefits associated with social networking, the negative responses heavily outweighed the positive. ​ Those surveyed reportedly experienced bullying, low-self esteem, lack of sleep, and “FOMO” (fear of missing out) due to their excessive use of social media. Previous studies have often suggested that young people who spend more than two hours a day on social networking sites are far more likely to report feelings of psychological distress. ​ The findings of the survey concluded that Instagram is the worst outlet for a young person’s mental health. “Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out while others enjoy life,” the #StatusOfMind report states. “These feelings can promote a ‘compare and despair’ attitude.” ​ The authors of the survey also state that social media posts can set unrealistic expectations and create feelings of inadequacy. This may explain why Instagram, where personal photos are the bread and butter of the app, received the lowest scores for body image and anxiety. The authors of the survey also state that social media posts can set unrealistic expectations and create feelings of inadequacy. This may explain why Instagram, where personal photos are the bread and butter of the app, received the lowest scores for body image and anxiety. ​ Chris Pisarik, a nationally licensed psychologist, explained that young girls are more vulnerable to the negative psychological effects attached to social networking websites. ​ “Its different for girls because when boys are on their screen, they’re playing video games,” Pisarik said. “When girls are on their screen, its social. A lot of the social cues they get, a lot of that social interaction, many times is not positive… and so it seems to be having an affect on girls self-esteem and levels of depression.” ​ A study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science found that increased time spent with electronic devices might have contributed to a rise in the symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts over the last several years amongst tweens and teens — especially among girls. ​ Jean Twenge, the San Diego State University psychologist who led the study, explains in her report that there is a much more significant risk of suicide attempts, thoughts of suicide, and depression when a young person spends more than three hours online per day. Twenge says the surveys asked students to respond to statements such as “life often feels meaningless,” or “I feel my life is not very useful,” or “I feel I cant do anything right”. Between 2010 and 2015, Twenge discovered the number of young people who answered “yes” to three or more of these questions increased considerably: from 16 percent in 2010 to 22 percent in 2015. Findings concluded that these feelings increased significantly among girls, who were six times more likely than boys to report symptoms of depression. This is commonly referred to as "Instagram Depression." Top ways social media negatively affects mental health 1. Social media is addictive ​​ Chances are, you check your social media immediately when you wake up and just before you go to bed. In recent years, states have had to adopt "hands-free" laws because checking social media has quickly become one of the leading causes of road accidents. Researchers at Nottingham Trent University have coined the term "Facebook Addiction Disorder" to describe the overarching psychological effects of social media usage. According to their research, this addiction can lead to mental preoccupation, neglect of personal life, mood modifying experiences, social detachment, and more. ​ 2. Can lead to low self-esteem issues Experts have argued that excessive use of social media can lead to self-esteem issues. When you spend too much time on social media, it is easy to compare your life to the "highlight reels" of others. You are also more susceptible to cyberbullying, misinterpreted comments, and unrealistic expectations due to other users utilizing filters and photoshop. ​ 3. Feeling isolated from the world There is a big difference between interacting with people online and being with the in real life. Even though social media was built to connect the world, it can easily cause us to become extremely disconnected. When chatting online, you lack the physical connection -- this can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. ​ 4. It may lead to anti-social behavior Today, social media encompasses so many interesting games, music, and videos which encourage one to stay online for hours on end. In fact, the average American spends two hours a day on social media -- some people can spend between 3-5 hours a day on social media. People would rather socialize on social media than actually go out and socialize in public. Spending too much time on social media can cause one to miss out on real life. ​ 5. Cyberbullying Cases of cyberbullying are increasing rapidly. In fact, according to UNICEF, one in three people have admitted to being a victim of some sort of online bullying. Cyberbullying can lead to anti-social behavior, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. ​ 6. Can lead to depression Researchers believe that the use of social media has contributed to a rise in cases of depression around the world. In the United States, the suicide rate has increased by 25% since 1999. Recognizing social media addiction Do I spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media? Yes No Sometimes Do I feel urges to use social media more and more? Yes No Sometimes Do I use social media to forget about personal problems? Yes No Sometimes Do I become restless or troubled if I am unable to use social media ("FOMO")? Yes No Sometimes Do I often try to reduce my use of social meda without success? Yes No Sometimes Has my social media usage negatively affected my job/relationships? Yes No Sometimes If you answered "yes" to more than three of these questions, then you may have or be developing a social media addiction. ​ As a precaution, you should partake in a "digital detox": a period of time during which you reduce the time spent on electronic devices (smartphones and computers) or you completely abstain from usage. To do this you can: ​ Turn off sound notifications on your phone Turn your phone on "night mode." This will stop any notification from popping up on your screen for an allotted amount of time Only check social media sites once an hour Deactivate social media accounts completely Turn off your phone for a predetermined amount of time everyday Find a hobby that doesn't require any sort of technology If you find that you are suffering from a social media or technology addiction, visit addictioncenter.com for help. Click "learn more" to be taken directly to their website. Remember, it is never weak to ask for help. Learn more Do you know your net? Click "Take Quiz Now" if you think you're ready to test your #NetKnowledge! Take quiz now! You may also like: Read more Cybersecurity Discover helpful tips to stay safe online and avoid dangerous situations. Read more Online dating Online dating can certainly be convenient in this technological era, but it comes with it's fair share of complications and dangers. Read more Sexting & Pornography Sexting and pornography can be damaging. Click "read more" to find out why.

  • Resources | Know Your Net

    resources Know Your Net is here for you. Take a peek at some of the resources available to help keep you and your loved ones safe online. Here, you will find a list of the five best monitoring applications for parents, an app that checks for malicious or dead URLs, and a list of resources for you to access if you or someone you know is being cyberbullied. While you're at it, get to know a little bit about our mission. If you have any suggestions for additional resources, please type them in our "suggestions" box at the bottom of this page. Read more About us Get to know us! Learn about our mission statement and why we do what we do. Read more Monitoring Applications The votes are in! Check out the five best monitoring apps for parents. Read more Cyberbullying Resources Is someone close to you being cyberbullied? Are YOU? Find the help you need here. Read more URL checker Did you recieve a suspicious URL? Check it here to make sure it isn't dead or malicious. Read more #beKYNd The Be KYNd Project's goal is simple: to put an end to online bullying. Readabout our mission here. Read more KYN Blog Stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity info with the KYN Blog! Alexa Gilomen Apr 8 2 min Avoid IRS Imposter Scams This Tax Season While IRS imposter scams happen year-round, they are particularly prevalent during tax season and in times of crisis (ex: scams related... 36 views 0 comments 2 likes. Post not marked as liked 2 Alexa Gilomen Jul 22, 2021 3 min Avoid this email scam and secure your facebook account Most of us have probably received an email at some point from Facebook saying, "someone is trying to log onto your account." The feeling... 288 views 0 comments 7 likes. Post not marked as liked 7 Alexa Gilomen Jun 16, 2021 2 min Keeping up with email scams Recently, someone very close to me fell victim to an email scam that gave the hacker full remote access to their computer (super scary, I... 64 views 0 comments 12 likes. Post not marked as liked 12 suggestions Did we miss something? Let us know. Submit Thank you! Your form has been submitted.

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