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Cybersecurity news you can use

from the IRR Team.

Scam emails and texts about free COVID tests,
cellphone bill payments, package deliveries,
what you've viewed online,
and gift card balances 
are on the rise this winter.

Check out the new Ice Phishing video to learn more. 

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> Fake COVID websites: The US Department of Health and Human Services has launched the website where anyone with a postal address can order free COVID tests. But scammers immediately launched fake sites like and to collect personal information and credit card numbers from unsuspecting visitors. 

> Vehicle alert: between now and Halloween, major cellphone carriers will shut down their older 3G networks to make way for new, faster 5G. The end of 3G will affect millions of cars and trucks built as recently as 2019, making in-nav traffic navigation, emergency call services, smartphone app connectivity, and Wi-Fi hotspots useless. Do a web search on "3G" + your make and model of vehicle to learn more. 

> Cybersafety labels for consumer products may be headed our way. The information would look similar to nutrition labels on food packaging. The Washington Post says the idea is to make buyers demand products that are built to better protect against breaches and adhere to privacy standards.

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What you need to know

Simply entering your name and password won't work on anymore.


Just in time for the new tax season, the IRS is using facial recognition software, requiring taxpayers to prove their identity before accessing accounts online. 

To open an account or access an existing one, taxpayers will have to upload images of documents like a birth certificate, health insurance card, or passport...and provide a video selfie from their phone or webcam.

The process, managed by a 12-year old tech company called, is designed to reduce the chances that scammers gain access to a taxpayer's IRS account.

> You should have an active online account with the IRS to prevent a scammer from setting up one in your name. 

> Visit to learn what's required to access or set up your account.

> Have these ready when you begin registering: 

  • Email address

  • Social Security number

  • Photo ID (Driver's License, Passport, Passport Card, or State ID)

  • Mobile phone with a camera

  • Laptop or computer with a webcam (optional)

> If you have trouble completing this process, you can place a live video call to an agent, though wait times may be lengthy. 


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The IRS, Social Security Administration and Medicare will never email,

text, or visit your home. The agencies communicate by US mail. 

The IRS has just announced it is withdrawing plans to use this identification system. According to the New York Times, "The I.R.S. said on Monday that it would “transition away” from using a third-party service for facial recognition to help authenticate people creating new online accounts. The transition will occur over the coming weeks to prevent additional disruptions to the tax filing season, which ends April 18."

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The Synovus IRR Team is dedicated to keeping you and your family safe online.

Have you received what you think is a fake phishing email? Let the IRR team know right away. The faster we know, the more we can do to protect everyone. 


> First, click the phishing icon in your email browser to forward the email to the IRR team. 

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Do you have a question we can use in an upcoming edition of Cybersecurity News? Send it to

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"If you think someone might have breached your connection/network/passwords, etc., and is capturing your data, what can you do to 'test' that theory to check if it's actually happening?"


Here are the most common clues something is amiss on your computer or smartphone:

  • Your device slows to a crawl, stops working, or your phone is using lots more data than usual.

  • The cursor moves around the screen on its own.

  • Pop-up windows appear, especially ones that encourage you to download antivirus or other software.

  • A new toolbar appears at the top of your web browser.

  • You’re notified that you’ve changed the password on an account you didn’t change, or an existing password stops working.

  • You are notified that you’ve logged in from a new computer, but you’re still using the same one.

  • Friends say you’ve invited them to follow you on a social media account, but you don’t have a new account and you didn’t invite them.

  • Programs you don’t recognize launch when you start up your computer.


An ounce of prevention: Here are steps you can take now to protect your personal information.


  • Purchase, install, and run an anti-virus program on your computer and Android phone.

  • Windows users, launch “Task Manager” and Mac users, launch “Activity Monitor” to see which apps are using your computer’s processing power. Do a web search for the name of a program you don’t recognize to learn more about what it's doing.

  • Make sure you recognize a sender’s email address before downloading or opening an email attachment.

  • Restart your Wi-Fi router every few weeks.

  • Update your computer and phone’s operating system software when a new version is available.

  • Password-protect your phone, ideally using a fingerprint or face scan.

  • Change passwords on accounts that might be at risk, particularly your bank, email account, and government accounts like the IRS or Social Security.

  • Make new passwords at least 15 characters long with special characters like (#^%&!@).


Sources: CSO Online, Komando, USA Today, Microsoft

Do you have a cybersecurity question?
Let us know!

Aware Force Cybersecurity News • February 2022 a • Edition #139

Ice photo Photo by Luca Chiandoni

Cartoon © 2022 CartoonStock

Original content © 2022 Aware Force LLC | Aware Force is a registered trademark