In the Scam of the Day for October 8th, I reported to you about the recent announcement that Equifax, the company responsible through its own negligence for 145 million Americans becoming in serious danger of identity theft for the rest of their lives, was awarded a 7.25 million dollar contract to provide security and fraud detection services to the IRS. Making the problem even worse was the fact that the contract was a no-bid contract.
Now under pressure from numerous members of Congress the IRS has temporarily suspended the contract while the IRS investigates Equifax’s systems and security. The suspension of the contract means that taxpayers wishing to set up accounts with the IRS through its Secure Access program which enables taxpayers to access certain online services will be unable to do so. Taxpayers who already had set up accounts with the IRS to use the Secure Access program, however, will still be able to use their accounts.
Relying on the IRS to protect the security of our data is somewhat problematic because the IRS itself has had a number of instances where its security practices have been lacking. When it comes to protecting ourselves from identity theft there are numerous simple steps we should all take in order to protect ourselves. I provide them in great detail in my book “Identity Theft Alert.” However, here are a few of the things we all should do: Freeze your credit, monitor your credit reports and all of your accounts, use complex passwords, use nonsensical security questions, use dual factor authentication, use security software on all of your devices and keep the software updated with the latest security patches, never click on links or download attachments unless you have verified that they are legitimate and limit the places you provide your Social Security number as much as possible. Your doctor, for instance, may ask for it, but he or she doesn’t need it.