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Scammers hacking bank accounts to take families' child tax credit

How to stay password-protected against hackers and scammers
Computer typing woman work online hack
Posted at 2:39 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 20:02:17-04

TULSA, Okla. — A Problem Solvers scam alert tonight to protect your family.

Many have depended on stimulus payments from the feds to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As 2 News Problem Solver Pete Knutson tells us, scammers are taking advantage of some families as they wait for more stimulus money specifically designed to help families care for their kids.

Many families will soon be able to get up to $3600 per child in additional stimulus in the form of the expanded child tax credit recently passed by Congress, all based on family income. Much of it will be sent out in monthly payments of $250 to $300 per qualifying child.

Experts say the IRS is planning to set up a portal for some parents to update their children's information to make sure the family gets all the money they're entitled to. But now, scammers are using news of the yet-to-be-created portal to target victims.

One scheme tries to hack their bank account password. Callers tell folks they're from the government and want to update their info in the portal. But to do that, they need the family bank account number and their online password so the scammer can supposedly make sure the account is set up to receive those monthly payments.

Teresa told us, "I was excited to make sure we will get all that money for my five children. It means a lot to my family because COVID really hurt us."

Unfortunately, Teresa says the scammer cleared out their bank account. Luckily, they only had a few dollars in it but they had to close the account anyway and open a new one. So remember never to give out any of your family's information to people who contact you out of the blue.

Going in-depth tonight, many password hacking scams aren't so brazen. Scammers try to sneak through your device's backdoor.

So experts say it's important to especially be careful with your passwords and remember these five tips:

Be Unpredictable

There are two common password attacks - Brute Force and Dictionary attacks. Both generally involve a bot, but can also be done manually, and involve trying a sequence of numbers and/or common words like 123456 - hence trying to crack a password using “brute force” or common “dictionary” words. To minimize this type of exposure, don't make your passwords predictable.

Be Creative

Related to being unpredictable, consider creating a phrase and use the first or second letter of each word, or substitute a special character for letters and/or numbers. If you just don’t seem to have a creative bone in your body, you can always use a password generator. These are guaranteed to spit out some creative, and secure, password options.

Be Long

These days when you get asked to create a password, most have a minimum of 10-12 character length. The longer the password, the more possible combination and permutations of the password there are, and thereby the safer they generally are. However, don’t forget tips 1 and 2, because long common words and sequences of numbers are still easier to crack!

Be Smart

Believe it or not, one of the more common reasons passwords are compromised is because people share their credentials. Quite simply - never, ever share your password(s)! Also, be mindful of phishing - this is where you receive an email or text message asking for you to confirm your details or take some other action where you need to enter your personal credentials. These types of acts are becoming increasingly sophisticated and can look very legitimate, like an email from your bank. As a good rule of thumb, unless you make a request, don't ever enter your credentials. Or, if you have any doubts, contact the organization requesting the information directly.

Be Fresh

Refresh your passwords regularly. While it may seem onerous, and even if you think you have finally come up with the most secure password ever, one of the best ways to protect your password is to change it up regularly. In addition, you should use different passwords for different logins – yes, a different password for every login. Having a unique password for all your accounts assures that if or when one is compromised the others remain protected. Pro tip: If you can't remember all your passwords, consider using a secure password manager.

On 2 News TONIGHT at 6 p.m., Pete Knutson digs into how scammers are looking for new ways to take your family's stimulus payments and how to keep your passwords protected.

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