Friendly Reminder: Online Safety During Tax Season

March 24, 2023

We hope that this post finds our readers and their families well, and are excited as we are about the onset of spring.

With the spring season also being tax season, we wanted to share a brief reminder to be extra vigilant regarding fraudulent phone calls, emails, and even text messages from people claiming to be from the government or financial institutions (such as your bank or credit card company) asking to verify your personal information (particularly callers claiming to be from the Social Security Administration or IRS).  Anyone of us can be caught off guard and fall victim to this type of fraud, especially as these criminals are learning how to use greater sophistication to trick people into believing the call or email to be authentic. 

While government agencies and financial institutions may contact you over the phone or email for various legitimate purposes, if they are the ones contacting you, they should NEVER be requesting your personal information.  If you are in doubt, always call them directly using the contact information listed on their official website.  Another trick sometimes used involves Caller ID spoof, whereby the fraudster can make it appear on your Caller ID that the call is coming from the government or other entity.  The fraudster might not ask for your personal information at first to gain your trust, but then will ask that you call them back at that number later to verify some information. 

Please note that Centerpoint will never ask you to provide your social security number or account numbers via unsecure email, nor would we request this information through our website or portal by way of a chat bot or jot form.      


Lastly, remember to practice online safety using these additional tips:


    • Make sure the websites you visit are legitimate (some fraudsters clone websites) and check that that there is a “lock” symbol on the left side of the URL for sites that require you to enter personal information, such as credit card information.
    • Be careful of clicking on links in emails or text messages, especially if they look unfamiliar.  If in doubt, call the company who sent the email to confirm authenticity or visit their website directly by typing in the URL (some fraudsters will send out fake shipping alerts via email which contain malware designed to look like they’re from FedEx or UPS. If you are expecting a package and wish to track it, go directly to the site). 
    • Do not click on links in pop-up ads.
    • Don’t conduct transactions (including from smartphones) from public Wi-Fi networks – they typically aren’t secure networks.
    • Use strong passwords for your online accounts and limit what you share on social media, as this information can sometimes overlap (pet names, maiden names, anniversary dates, etc.)
    • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and perform regular scans. 

If you are a Centerpoint client and feel your personal information has been compromised, please notify us immediately so that we know if we should place a freeze on your accounts and can guide you through next steps.