The STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ Campaign Friends Newsletter

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February 2018 Friends Newsletter

Tax Identity Theft

Tax Identity Theft: How to Prevent It

Tax identity theft can happen to anyone, but there are many steps you can take to prevent it from happening to you this tax season.

Tax identity theft occurs when someone steals your Social Security number in order to file a false tax return. This is also known as stolen refund fraud.

General tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of tax identity theft include:

  • Protect your sensitive personal information – keep passwords hidden, memorize your Social Security number instead of carrying your card
  • Shred documents you don't need instead of throwing them away – don’t make your personal information easy to find
  • File your taxes early – if your taxes are already filed, potential criminals can’t take advantage of your Social Security number

The Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service offer more information on identifying and reporting tax identity theft at the pages linked here and their websites.

Cyber Quiz

Test your cyber IQ with the quiz question below. You can find the correct answer at the bottom of the newsletter.

True or false: Your username and password are solely secure enough to keep your key accounts safe, such as bank accounts and social media.

Romance Scams: Recognition and Recovery

A romance scam involves a perpetrator building a fraudulent, often romantic relationship with an online victim. This leads to the perpetrator playing to the emotions of their victim in hopes of extorting money, gifts, or personal information.

According to the non-profit Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams (SCARS), in 2016 an estimated 1 million individuals became new victims to romance scams and more than $35 billion was lost to scammers.

Romance scams can be detected and avoided early in an encounter by taking precautions when using social media. Some early red flags include:

  • Consistently poor grammar and/or spelling
  • Their message is two or three paragraphs long - unusual for initial contact
  • Their profile images appear to be magazine quality or inconsistent

If you suspect you or a loved one have fallen prey to a romance scam, SCARS' partner websites can assist: you can report the scammer at AnyScam and seek counseling or education from Romance Scams Now.

STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ Partner Spotlight


The Maine Office of Information Technology receives the STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ Campaign Partner Spotlight this month for their work during National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2017 and their year-round, continued dedication to the future of cyber security.

During NCSAM 2017, the Maine Office of Information Technology organized/participated in 10+ cyber security related events, including webinars and panel discussions. The Maine Office of Information Technology plans to further enhance the cyber security awareness component of their onboarding process in the effort to educate their workforce early to mitigate potential risks.

In addition to their work during NCSAM 2017, the Maine Office of Information Technology has dedicated itself to encouraging the next generation of cyber security specialists through their promotion of Girls Go CyberStart. Girls Go CyberStart is a national online program designed for young women in grades 9-12, offering courses on programming, Linux and other operating systems, digital forensics and cryptography.

“Every day, we see and understand the evolving cyber threat.  We as government organizations have to protect the data entrusted to us.  The work of campaigns like STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ are so important to get the message and awareness out,” said Jim Smith, State of Maine Chief Information Officer.

“Without the dedication and commitment of our leadership and staff members, our involvement and creative activities in the STOP.THINK.CONNECT.™ Campaign would not have been nearly as comprehensive.  It was so important to promote cybersecurity awareness – a topic that is a very serious matter in the workplace,” said Kelly Samson-Rickert, State of Maine Director of Office of Information Technology Workforce Innovations. “We promoted activities that were hands-on and relevant to our workplace with opportunities that allowed our workforce to get engaged and have fun! Fun learning resonates beyond a seminar, and it is our hope that as our State of Maine employees engage in online activities at work or at home, that they think twice about the world of cyber,” she said.

Cyber Quiz Answer

The answer to this week’s Cyber Quiz above:

Answer: False. A username and password by themselves do not provide the best security. Whenever possible, strengthen online accounts using authentication tools like biometrics, security keys or unique, one-time codes offered through an app on your mobile device. For more tips on how to improve your online security, check out the STOP. THINK. CONNECT.Campaign's Five Every Day Steps Towards Online Safety tip card.

in this issue
  • Tax Identity Theft
  • Cyber Quiz
  • Romance Scam Information
  • STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ Partner Spotlight
featured resources

The STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ Campaign’s How to Recognize & Prevent Cybercrime Tip Card provides definitions for common cybercrime attacks and how to prevent them from happening to you.

The Federal Trade Commission Scam Alert feed provides information and helpful tips on a variety of scams. Subscribing to the FTC Scam Alerts puts you a step ahead in spotting and avoiding common scams. Past alerts are also available to browse by topic or date.