March Tips

Use the Extended Tax Deadline to Maximize Your Return

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the federal income tax filing due date for the 2020 tax year has been extended April 15 to May 17, 2021. This extra time is a perfect opportunity to take another look at your taxes to maximize your return. Here are a few tips you may not have thought to consider:

Contribute to Your Retirement Plans

It’s not too late to make contributions to your retirement plans for the 2020 tax year to lower your taxable income. For a 401(k), you can contribute up to $19,000, or $25,000 if you’re over 50. For an IRA, it’s $6,000. It’s a good idea to try to get as close to those limits as you can afford.

Do You Qualify for Tax Credits?

Tax deductions are what most people think about when trying to reduce their tax burden, but tax credits are even more valuable because they come right off your tax bill. In contrast, tax deductions only reduce taxable income. Refundable tax credits do even more because they can give you a refund that is even more than the tax that you owe.

Let Software Crunch the Numbers for You

If you’re going to do your taxes, you may want to take advantage of some great software out there that can not only do the math for you but can find deductions and tax credits that you may have missed. Some will even let you file your taxes right through their application. There are lots of great choices, so do some research to see which may work best for you. Also, the IRS now offers a free online filing system to help you.

Yes, this is a stressful time of year, and these tips won’t change that entirely, but every little bit helps. At First Nebraska Bank, we want you and your family to be financially secure. Let us know if you ever have any questions about the best ways to move forward with your money to be as successful as possible.

Security Update

Ransomware Prevention

In this article, we give you tips on how to prevent ransomware attacks, from never clicking on unverified links, to avoiding using unfamiliar USBs. Read on to learn more about ransomware prevention.

Never Click on Unverified Links

Avoid clicking links in spam emails or on unfamiliar websites. Downloads that start when you click on malicious links is one way that your computer could get infected.

Once the ransomware is on your computer, it will encrypt your data or lock your operating system. Once the ransomware has something to hold as ‘hostage,’ it will demand a ransom so that you can recover your data. Paying these ransoms may seem like the simplest solution. However, this is exactly what the perpetrator wants you to do and paying these ransoms does not guarantee they will give you access to your device or your data back.

Do Not Open Untrusted Email Attachments

Another way that ransomware could get onto your computer is through an email attachment.

Do not open email attachments from senders you do not trust. Look at who the email is from and confirm that the email address is correct. Be sure to assess whether an attachment looks genuine before opening it. If you’re not sure, contact the person you think has sent it and double check.
Never open attachments that ask you to enable macros to view them. If the attachment is infected, opening it will run the malicious macro, giving the malware control over your computer.

Only Download From Sites You Trust

To reduce the risk of downloading ransomware, do not download software or media files from unknown websites.

Go to verified, trusted sites if you want to download something. Most reputable websites will have markers of trust that you can recognize. Just look in the search bar to see if the site uses ‘https’ instead of ‘http.’ A shield or lock symbol may also show in the address bar to verify that the site is secure.

If you’re downloading something on your phone, make sure you download from reputable sources. For example, Android phones should use the Google Play Store to download apps and iPhone users should use the App Store.

Avoid Giving Out Personal Data

If you receive a call, text, or email from an untrusted source that asks for personal information, do not give it out.
Cybercriminals planning a ransomware attack may try to gain personal data in advance of an attack. They can use this information in phishing emails to target you specifically.

The aim is to lure you into opening an infected attachment or link. Do not let the perpetrators get hold of data that makes their trap more convincing.
If you get contacted by a company asking for information, ignore the request, and contact the company independently to verify it is genuine.

Never Use Unfamiliar USBs

Never insert USBs or other removal storage devices into your computer if you do not know where they came from.
Cybercriminals may have infected the device with ransomware and left it in a public space to lure you into using it.

Keep Your Software and Operating System Updated

Keeping your software and operating system updated will help protect you from malware. Because when you run an update, you are ensuring that you benefit from the latest security patches, making it harder for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities in your software.

Use a VPN When Using Public Wi-Fi

Being cautious with public Wi-Fi is a sensible ransomware protection measure.

When you use public Wi-Fi, your computer system is more vulnerable to attack. To stay protected, avoid using public Wi-Fi for confidential transactions, or use a secure VPN.

Use Security Software

As cybercrime becomes more widespread, ransomware protection has never been more crucial. Protect your computer from ransomware with a comprehensive internet security solution.

When you download or stream, security software blocks infected files, preventing ransomware from infecting your computer and keeping cybercriminals at bay.

Keep Security Software Updated

To benefit from the highest level of protection that internet security software has to offer, ensure you keep it updated. Each update will include the latest security patches and maximize ransomware prevention.

Backup Your Data

Should you experience a ransomware attack, your data will remain safe if it is backed up. Make sure to keep everything copied on an external hard drive but be sure not to leave it connected to your computer when not in use. If the hard drive is plugged in when you become a victim of a ransomware attack, this data will also be encrypted.

Additionally, cloud storage solutions allow you to revert to previous versions of your files. Therefore, if they become encrypted by ransomware, you should be able to return to an unencrypted version via cloud storage.