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Irs ProblemsIrs problems 6. Irs problems Retail Tax on Heavy Trucks, Trailers, and Tractors Table of Contents Highway vehicle. Irs problems Vehicles not considered highway vehicles. Irs problems Idling reduction device. Irs problems Separate purchase. Irs problems Leases. Irs problems Exported vehicle. Irs problems Tax on resale of tax-paid trailers and semitrailers. Irs problems Use treated as sale. Irs problems Sale. Irs problems Long-term lease. Irs problems Short-term lease. Irs problems Related person. Irs problems Exclusions from tax base. Irs problems Sales not at arm's length. Irs problems Installment sales. Irs problems Repairs and modifications. Irs problems Further manufacture. Irs problems Rail trailers and rail vans. Irs problems Parts and accessories. Irs problems Trash containers. Irs problems House trailers. Irs problems Camper coaches or bodies for self-propelled mobile homes. Irs problems Farm feed, seed, and fertilizer equipment. Irs problems Ambulances and hearses. Irs problems Truck-tractors. Irs problems Concrete mixers. Irs problems Registration requirement. Irs problems Further manufacture. Irs problems A tax of 12% of the sales price is imposed on the first retail sale of the following articles, including related parts and accessories sold on or in connection with, or with the sale of, the articles. Irs problems Truck chassis and bodies. Irs problems Truck trailer and semitrailer chassis and bodies. Irs problems Tractors of the kind chiefly used for highway transportation in combination with a trailer or semitrailer. Irs problems A truck is a highway vehicle primarily designed to transport its load on the same chassis as the engine, even if it is equipped to tow a vehicle, such as a trailer or semitrailer. Irs problems A tractor is a highway vehicle designed to tow a vehicle, such as a trailer or semitrailer. Irs problems A tractor may carry incidental items of cargo when towing or limited amounts of cargo when not towing. Irs problems A sale of a truck, truck trailer, or semitrailer is considered a sale of a chassis and a body. Irs problems The seller is liable for the tax. Irs problems Chassis or body. Irs problems A chassis or body is taxable only if you sell it for use as a component part of a highway vehicle that is a truck, truck trailer or semitrailer, or a tractor of the kind chiefly used for highway transportation in combination with a trailer or semitrailer. Irs problems Highway vehicle. Irs problems A highway vehicle is any self-propelled vehicle designed to carry a load over public highways, whether or not it is also designed to perform other functions. Irs problems Examples of vehicles designed to carry a load over public highways are passenger automobiles, motorcycles, buses, and highway-type trucks and truck tractors. Irs problems A vehicle is a highway vehicle even though the vehicle's design allows it to perform a highway transportation function for only one of the following. Irs problems A particular type of load, such as passengers, furnishings, and personal effects (as in a house, office, or utility trailer). Irs problems A special kind of cargo, goods, supplies, or materials. Irs problems Some off-highway task unrelated to highway transportation, except as discussed next. Irs problems Vehicles not considered highway vehicles. Irs problems Generally, the following kinds of vehicles are not considered highway vehicles for purposes of the retail tax. Irs problems Specially designed mobile machinery for nontransportation functions. Irs problems A self-propelled vehicle is not a highway vehicle if all the following apply. Irs problems The chassis has permanently mounted to it machinery or equipment used to perform certain operations (construction, manufacturing, drilling, mining, timbering, processing, farming, or similar operations) if the operation of the machinery or equipment is unrelated to transportation on or off the public highways. Irs problems The chassis has been specially designed to serve only as a mobile carriage and mount (and power source, if applicable) for the machinery or equipment, whether or not the machinery or equipment is in operation. Irs problems The chassis could not, because of its special design and without substantial structural modification, be used as part of a vehicle designed to carry any other load. Irs problems Vehicles specially designed for off-highway transportation. Irs problems A vehicle is not treated as a highway vehicle if the vehicle is specially designed for the primary function of transporting a particular type of load other than over the public highway and because of this special design, the vehicles's capability to transport a load over a public highway is substantially limited or impaired. Irs problems To make this determination, you can take into account the vehicle's size, whether the vehicle is subject to licensing, safety, or other requirements, and whether the vehicle can transport a load at a sustained speed of at least 25 miles per hour. Irs problems It does not matter that the vehicle can carry heavier loads off highway than it is allowed to carry over the highway. Irs problems Nontransportation trailers and semitrailers. Irs problems A trailer or semitrailer is not treated as a highway vehicle if it is specially designed to function only as an enclosed stationary shelter for carrying on a nontransportation function at an off-highway site. Irs problems For example, a trailer that is capable only of functioning as an office for an off-highway construction operation is not a highway vehicle. Irs problems Gross vehicle weight. Irs problems The tax does not apply to truck chassis and bodies suitable for use with a vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight (defined below) of 33,000 pounds or less. Irs problems It also does not apply to truck trailer and semitrailer chassis and bodies suitable for use with a trailer or semitrailer that has a gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or less. Irs problems Tractors that have a gross vehicle weight of 19,500 pounds or less and a gross combined weight of 33,000 pounds or less are excluded from the 12% retail tax. Irs problems The following four classifications of truck body types meet the suitable for use standard and will be excluded from the retail excise tax. Irs problems Platform truck bodies 21 feet or less in length. Irs problems Dry freight and refrigerated truck van bodies 24 feet or less in length. Irs problems Dump truck bodies with load capacities of 8 cubic yards or less. Irs problems Refuse packer truck bodies with load capacities of 20 cubic yards or less. Irs problems For more information on these classifications, see Revenue Procedure 2005-19, which is on page 832 of I. Irs problems R. Irs problems B. Irs problems 2005-14 at www. Irs problems irs. Irs problems gov/pub/irs-irbs/irb05-14. Irs problems pdf. Irs problems The gross vehicle weight means the maximum total weight of a loaded vehicle. Irs problems Generally, this maximum total weight is the gross vehicle weight rating provided by the manufacturer or determined by the seller of the completed article. Irs problems The seller's gross vehicle weight rating is determined solely on the basis of the strength of the chassis frame and the axle capacity and placement. Irs problems The seller may not take into account any readily attachable components (such as tires or rim assemblies) in determining the gross vehicle weight. Irs problems See Regulations section 145. Irs problems 4051-1(e)(3) for more information. Irs problems Parts or accessories. Irs problems The tax applies to parts or accessories sold on or in connection with, or with the sale of, a taxable article. Irs problems For example, if at the time of the sale by the retailer, the part or accessory has been ordered from the retailer, the part or accessory will be considered as sold in connection with the sale of the vehicle. Irs problems The tax applies in this case whether or not the retailer bills the parts or accessories separately. Irs problems If the retailer sells a taxable chassis, body, or tractor without parts or accessories considered essential for the operation or appearance of the taxable article, the sale of the parts or accessories by the retailer to the purchaser is considered made in connection with the sale of the taxable article even though they are shipped separately, at the same time, or on a different date. Irs problems The tax applies unless there is evidence to the contrary. Irs problems For example, if a retailer sells to any person a chassis and the bumpers for the chassis, or sells a taxable tractor and the fifth wheel and attachments, the tax applies to the parts or accessories regardless of the method of billing or the time at which the shipments were made. Irs problems The tax does not apply to parts and accessories that are spares or replacements. Irs problems The tax imposed on parts and accessories sold on or in connection with the taxable articles listed earlier and the tax imposed on the separate purchase of parts and accessories (discussed next) for the taxable articles listed earlier do not apply to an idling reduction device or insulation that has an R value of at least R35 per inch. Irs problems Idling reduction device. Irs problems An idling reduction device is any device or system of devices that provide the tractor with services, such as heat, air conditioning, and electricity, without the use of the main drive engine while the tractor is temporarily parked or stationary. Irs problems The device must be affixed to the tractor and determined by the Administrator of the EPA, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy and Secretary of Transportation, to reduce idling while parked or stationary. Irs problems The EPA discusses idling reduction technologies on its website at www. Irs problems epa. Irs problems gov/smartway/technology/idling. Irs problems htm. Irs problems Separate purchase. Irs problems The tax generally applies to the price of a part or accessory and its installation if the following conditions are met. Irs problems The owner, lessee, or operator of any vehicle that contains a taxable article installs any part or accessory on the vehicle. Irs problems The installation occurs within 6 months after the vehicle is first placed in service. Irs problems The owners of the trade or business installing the parts or accessories are secondarily liable for the tax. Irs problems A vehicle is placed in service on the date the owner takes actual possession of the vehicle. Irs problems This date is established by a signed delivery ticket or other comparable document indicating delivery to and acceptance by the owner. Irs problems The tax does not apply if the installed part or accessory is a replacement part or accessory. Irs problems The tax also does not apply if the total price of the parts and accessories, including installation charges, during the 6-month period is $1,000 or less. Irs problems However, if the total price is more than $1,000, the tax applies to the cost of all parts and accessories (and installation charges) during that period. Irs problems Example. Irs problems You bought a taxable vehicle and placed it in service on April 8. Irs problems On May 3, you bought and installed parts and accessories at a cost of $850. Irs problems On July 15, you bought and installed parts and accessories for $300. Irs problems Tax of $138 (12% of $1,150) applies on July 15. Irs problems Also, tax will apply to any costs of additional parts and accessories installed on the vehicle before October 8. Irs problems First retail sale defined. Irs problems The sale of an article is treated as the first retail sale, and the seller will be liable for the tax imposed on the sale unless one of the following exceptions applies. Irs problems There has been a prior taxable sale, lease, or use of the article (however, see Tax on resale of tax-paid trailers and semitrailers, later). Irs problems The sale qualifies as a tax-free sale under section 4221 (see Sales exempt from tax, later). Irs problems The seller in good faith accepts from the purchaser a statement signed under penalties of perjury and executed in good faith that the purchaser intends to resell the article or lease it on a long-term basis. Irs problems There is no registration requirement. Irs problems Leases. Irs problems A long-term lease (a lease with a term of 1 year or more, taking into account options to renew) before a first retail sale is treated as a taxable sale. Irs problems The tax is imposed on the lessor at the time of the lease. Irs problems A short-term lease (a lease with a term of less than 1 year, taking into account options to renew) before a first retail sale is treated as a taxable use. Irs problems The tax is imposed on the lessor at the time of the lease. Irs problems Exported vehicle. Irs problems A vehicle exported before its first retail sale, used in a foreign country, and then returned to the United States is subject to the retail tax on its first domestic use or retail sale after importation. Irs problems Tax on resale of tax-paid trailers and semitrailers. Irs problems The tax applies to a trailer or semitrailer resold within 6 months after having been sold in a taxable sale. Irs problems The seller liable for the tax on the resale can claim a credit equal to the tax paid on the prior taxable sale. Irs problems The credit cannot exceed the tax on the resale. Irs problems See Regulations section 145. Irs problems 4052-1(a)(4) for information on the conditions to allowance for the credit. Irs problems Use treated as sale. Irs problems If any person uses a taxable article before the first retail sale of the article, that person is liable for the tax as if the article had been sold at retail by that person. Irs problems Figure the tax on the price at which similar articles are sold in the ordinary course of trade by retailers. Irs problems The tax attaches when the use begins. Irs problems If the seller of an article regularly sells the articles at retail in arm's-length transactions, figure the tax on its use on the lowest established retail price for the articles in effect at the time of the taxable use. Irs problems If the seller of an article does not regularly sell the articles at retail in arm's-length transactions, a constructive price on which the tax is figured will be determined by the IRS after considering the selling practices and price structures of sellers of similar articles. Irs problems If a seller of an article incurs liability for tax on the use of the article and later sells or leases the article in a transaction that otherwise would be taxable, liability for tax is not incurred on the later sale or lease. Irs problems Presumptive retail sales price. Irs problems There are rules to ensure that the tax base of transactions considered to be taxable sales includes either an actual or presumed markup percentage. Irs problems If the person liable for tax is the vehicle's manufacturer, producer, or importer, the following discussions show how you figure the presumptive retail sales price depending on the type of transaction and the persons involved in the transaction. Irs problems Table 6-1 outlines the appropriate tax base calculation for various transactions. Irs problems The presumed markup percentage to be used for trucks and truck-tractors is 4%. Irs problems But for truck trailers and semitrailers and remanufactured trucks and tractors, the presumed markup percentage is zero. Irs problems Sale. Irs problems For a taxable sale by a manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person, you generally figure the tax on a tax base of the sales price plus an amount equal to the presumed markup percentage times that sales price. Irs problems Long-term lease. Irs problems In the case of a long-term lease by a manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person, figure the tax on a tax base of the constructive sales price plus an amount equal to the presumed markup percentage times the constructive sales price. Irs problems Short-term lease. Irs problems When a manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person leases an article in a short-term lease considered a taxable use, figure the tax on a constructive sales price at which those or similar articles generally are sold in the ordinary course of trade by retailers. Irs problems But if the lessor in this situation regularly sells articles at retail in arm's-length transactions, figure the tax on the lowest established retail price in effect at the time of the taxable use. Irs problems If a person other than the manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person leases an article in a short-term lease considered a taxable use, figure the tax on a tax base of the price for which the article was sold to the lessor plus the cost of parts and accessories installed by the lessor and a presumed markup percentage. Irs problems Related person. Irs problems A related person is any member of the same controlled group as the manufacturer, producer, or importer. Irs problems Do not treat as a related person a person that sells the articles through a permanent retail establishment in the normal course of being a retailer if that person has records to prove the article was sold for a price that included a markup equal to or greater than the presumed markup percentage. Irs problems Table 6-1. Irs problems Tax Base IF the transaction is a. Irs problems . Irs problems . Irs problems THEN figuring the base by using the. Irs problems . Irs problems . Irs problems Sale by the manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person Sales price plus (presumed markup percentage × sales price) Sale by the dealer Total consideration paid for the item including any charges incident to placing it in a condition ready for use Long-term lease by the manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person Constructive sales price plus (presumed markup percentage × constructive sales price) Short-term lease by the manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person Constructive sales price at which such or similar articles are sold Short-term lease by a lessor other than the manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person Price for which the article was sold to the lessor plus the cost of parts and accessories installed by the lessor plus a presumed markup percentage Short-term lease where the articles are regularly sold at arm's length Lowest established retail price in effect at the time of the taxable use General rule for sales by dealers to the consumer. Irs problems For a taxable sale, other than a long-term lease, by a person other than a manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person, your tax base is the retail sales price as discussed next under Determination of tax base. Irs problems When you sell an article to the consumer, generally you do not add a presumed markup to the tax base. Irs problems However, you do add a markup if all the following apply. Irs problems You do not perform any significant activities relating to the processing of the sale of a taxable article. Irs problems The main reason for processing the sale through you is to avoid or evade the presumed markup. Irs problems You do not have records proving that the article was sold for a price that included a markup equal to or greater than the presumed markup percentage. Irs problems In these situations, your tax base is the sales price plus an amount equal to the presumed markup percentage times that selling price. Irs problems Determination of tax base. Irs problems These rules apply to both normal retail sales price and presumptive retail sales price computations. Irs problems To arrive at the tax base, the price is the total consideration paid (including trade-in allowance) for the item and includes any charge incident to placing the article in a condition ready for use. Irs problems However, see Presumptive retail sales price, earlier. Irs problems Exclusions from tax base. Irs problems Exclude from the tax base the retail excise tax imposed on the sale. Irs problems Exclude any state or local retail sales tax if stated as a separate charge from the price whether the sales tax is imposed on the seller or purchaser. Irs problems Also exclude the value of any used component of the article furnished by the first user of the article. Irs problems Exclude charges for transportation, delivery, insurance, and installation (other than installation charges for parts and accessories, discussed earlier) and other expenses incurred in connection with the delivery of an article to a purchaser. Irs problems These expenses are those incurred in delivery from the retail dealer to the customer. Irs problems In the case of delivery directly from the manufacturer to the dealer's customer, include the transportation and delivery charges to the extent the charges do not exceed what it would have cost to ship the article to the dealer. Irs problems Exclude amounts charged for machinery or equipment that does not contribute to the highway transportation function of the vehicle, provided those charges are supported by adequate records. Irs problems For example, for an industrial vacuum loader vehicle, exclude amounts charged for the vacuum pump and hose, filter system, material separator, silencer or muffler, control cabinet, and ladder. Irs problems Similarly, for a sewer cleaning vehicle, exclude amounts charged for the high pressure water pump, hose components, and the vacuum pipe. Irs problems Sales not at arm's length. Irs problems For any taxable article sold (not at arm's length) at less than the fair market price, figure the excise tax on the price for which similar articles are sold at retail in the ordinary course of trade. Irs problems A sale is not at arm's length if either of the following apply. Irs problems One of the parties is controlled (in law or in fact) by the other or there is common control, whether or not the control is actually exercised to influence the sales price. Irs problems The sale is made under special arrangements between a seller and a purchaser. Irs problems Installment sales. Irs problems If the first retail sale is an installment sale, or other form of sale in which the sales price is paid in installments, tax liability arises at the time of the sale. Irs problems The tax is figured on the entire sales price. Irs problems No part of the tax is deferred because the sales price is paid in installments. Irs problems Repairs and modifications. Irs problems The tax does not apply to the sale or use of an article that has been repaired or modified unless the cost of the repairs and modifications is more than 75% of the retail price of a comparable new article. Irs problems This includes modifications that change the transportation function of an article or restore a wrecked article to a functional condition. Irs problems However, this exception generally does not apply to an article that was not subject to the tax when it was new. Irs problems Further manufacture. Irs problems The tax does not apply to the use by a person of a taxable article as material in the manufacture or production of, or as a component part of, another article to be manufactured or produced by that person. Irs problems Do not treat a person as engaged in the manufacture of any article merely because that person combines the article with a: Coupling device (including any fifth wheel); Wrecker crane; Loading and unloading equipment (including any crane, hoist, winch, or power liftgate); Aerial ladder or tower; Ice and snow control equipment; Earth moving, excavation, and construction equipment; Spreader; Sleeper cab; Cab shield; or Wood or metal floor. Irs problems Combining an article with an item in this list does not give rise to taxability. Irs problems However, see Parts or accessories discussed earlier. Irs problems Articles exempt from tax. Irs problems The tax on heavy trucks, trailers, and tractors does not apply to sales of the articles described in the following discussions. Irs problems Rail trailers and rail vans. Irs problems This is any chassis or body of a trailer or semitrailer designed for use both as a highway vehicle and a railroad car (including any parts and accessories designed primarily for use on and in connection with it). Irs problems Do not treat a piggyback trailer or semitrailer as designed for use as a railroad car. Irs problems Parts and accessories. Irs problems This is any part or accessory sold separately from the truck or trailer, except as described earlier under Parts or accessories and Separate purchase. Irs problems Trash containers. Irs problems This is any box, container, receptacle, bin, or similar article that meets all the following conditions. Irs problems It is designed to be used as a trash container. Irs problems It is not designed to carry freight other than trash. Irs problems It is not designed to be permanently mounted on or affixed to a truck chassis or body. Irs problems House trailers. Irs problems This is any house trailer (regardless of size) suitable for use in connection with either passenger automobiles or trucks. Irs problems Camper coaches or bodies for self-propelled mobile homes. Irs problems This is any article designed to be mounted or placed on trucks, truck chassis, or automobile chassis and to be used primarily as living quarters or camping accommodations. Irs problems Further, the tax does not apply to chassis specifically designed and constructed to accommodate and transport self-propelled mobile home bodies. Irs problems Farm feed, seed, and fertilizer equipment. Irs problems This is any body primarily designed to process or prepare, haul, spread, load, or unload feed, seed, or fertilizer to or on farms. Irs problems This exemption applies only to the farm equipment body (and parts and accessories) and not to the chassis upon which the farm equipment is mounted. Irs problems Ambulances and hearses. Irs problems This is any ambulance, hearse, or combination ambulance-hearse. Irs problems Truck-tractors. Irs problems This is any truck-tractor specifically designed for use in shifting semitrailers in and around freight yards and freight terminals. Irs problems Concrete mixers. Irs problems This is any article designed to be placed or mounted on a truck, truck trailer, or semitrailer chassis to be used to process or prepare concrete. Irs problems This exemption does not apply to the chassis on which the article is mounted. Irs problems Sales exempt from tax. Irs problems The following sales are ordinarily exempt from tax. Irs problems Sales to a state or local government for its exclusive use. Irs problems Sales to Indian tribal governments, but only if the transaction involves the exercise of an essential tribal government function. Irs problems Sales to a nonprofit educational organization for its exclusive use. Irs problems Sales to a qualified blood collector organization (as defined under Communications Tax in chapter 4) for its exclusive use in the collection, storage, or transportation of blood. Irs problems Sales for use by the purchaser for further manufacture of other taxable articles (see below). Irs problems Sales for export or for resale by the purchaser to a second purchaser for export. Irs problems Sales to the United Nations for official use. Irs problems Registration requirement. Irs problems In general, the seller and buyer must be registered for a sale to be tax free. Irs problems See the Form 637 instructions for more information. Irs problems Certain registration exceptions apply in the case of sales to state and local governments, sales to foreign purchasers for export, and sales for resale or long term leasing. Irs problems Further manufacture. Irs problems If you buy articles tax free and resell or use them other than in the manufacture of another article, you are liable for the tax on their resale or use just as if you had manufactured and made the first retail sale of them. Irs problems Credits or refunds. Irs problems A credit or refund (without interest) of the retail tax on the taxable articles described earlier may be allowable if the tax has been paid with respect to an article and, before any other use, such article is used by any person as a component part of another taxable article manufactured or produced. Irs problems The person using the article as a component part is eligible for the credit or refund. Irs problems A credit or refund is allowable if, before any other use, an article is, by any person: Exported, Used or sold for use as supplies for vessels, Sold to a state or local government for its exclusive use, Sold to a nonprofit educational organization for its exclusive use, or Sold to a qualified blood collector organization (as defined under Communications Tax in chapter 4) for its exclusive use in the collection, storage, or transportation of blood. Irs problems A credit or refund is also allowable if there is a price readjustment by reason of the return or repossession of an article or by reason of a bona fide discount, rebate, or allowance. Irs problems See also Conditions to allowance in chapter 5. Irs problems Tire credit. Irs problems A credit is allowed against the retail tax on the taxable articles described earlier if taxable tires are sold on or in connection with the sale of the article. Irs problems The credit is equal to the manufacturers excise tax imposed on the taxable tires (discussed earlier). Irs problems This is the section 4051(d) taxable tire credit and is claimed on Schedule C (Form 720) for the same quarter for which the tax on the heavy vehicle is reported. Irs problems Prev Up Next Home More Online Publications
Protect Your Privacy Online
Know the Risks
Cyber security, phishing, worms, firewalls, Trojan horses, hackers, and viruses seem to be in the news every day. Plus warnings to update your virus protection, watch out for online scams, protect your privacy, and watch what you click on are everywhere. But what does it all mean? And what can you do to safeguard access to your computer and to protect yourself and your family? What is this all about?
The first step in protecting yourself is to recognize the risks and become familiar with some of the terminology associated with cyber security. The Department of Homeland Security created this list of terms: Hacker, attacker, or intruder - These terms are applied to the people who seek to exploit weaknesses in software and computer systems for their own gain. Although their intentions are sometimes fairly benign and motivated solely by curiosity, their actions are typically in violation of the intended use of the systems they are exploiting. The results can range from mere mischief (creating a virus with no intentionally negative impact) to malicious (stealing or altering information).
Malicious code includes code such as viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Although some people use these terms interchangeably, they have unique characteristics:
- Viruses - This type of malicious code requires you to actually do something before it infects your computer. This action could be opening an email attachment or going to a particular web page.
- Worms - Worms propagate without you r doing anything. They typically start by exploiting a software vulnerability (a flaw that allows the software's intended security policy to be violated). Then once the victim computer has been infected, the worm will attempt to find and infect other computers. Similar to viruses, worms can propagate via email, web sites, or network-based software. The automated self-propagation of worms distinguishes them from viruses.
- Trojan horses - A Trojan horse program is software that claims to do one thing while, in fact, doing something different behind the scenes. For example, a program that claims it will speed up your computer may actually be sending your confidential information to an intruder.
- Spyware - This sneaky software rides its way onto computers when you download screensavers, games, music, and other applications. Spyware sends information about what you're doing on the Internet to a third-party, usually to target you with pop-up ads. Browsers enable you to block pop-ups. You can also install anti-spyware to stop this threat to your privacy.
Minimize Access to Your Information
It is probably easy for you to identify people who could gain physical access to your computer—family members, roommates, co-workers, members of a cleaning crew, and maybe some others. But identifying the people who could gain remote access to your computer becomes much more difficult. As long as you have a computer and connect it to a network or the internet, you are vulnerable to someone or something else accessing or corrupting your information. Luckily, you can develop habits that make it more difficult.
Lock or log-off your computer when you are away from it. This prevents another person from waiting for you to leave and then sitting down at your computer and accessing all of your information.
To be really secure, disconnect your computer from the Internet when you aren't using it. DSL and cable modems make it possible for users to be online all the time, but this convenience comes with risks. The likelihood that attackers or viruses scanning the network for available computers will target your computer becomes much higher if your computer is always connected.
Evaluate your security settings. It is important to examine your computer's settings, especially the security settings, and select options that meet your needs without putting you at increased risk. Many, but not all Internet providers offer free security software. If you don't receive free software, you should consider buying a commercial product that includes virus scan, firewall, and pop-up blockers. You should also be aware of your Internet cookies setting. Cookies are short pieces of data used by web servers to identify users. Some cookies are useful for storing images and data from websites that you frequent, but others are malicious and collect information about you. You'll have to decide how much risk from cookies you can accept. Finally, if you install a patch or a new version of software, or if you hear of something that might affect your settings, reevaluate your settings to make sure they are still appropriate.
Look for signals that you are using a secure web page. A secure site encrypts or scrambles personal information so it cannot be easily intercepted. Signals include a screen notice that says you are on a secure site, a closed lock or unbroken key in the bottom corner of your screen, or the first letters of the Internet address you are viewing changes from "http" to "https."
What if Your Online Privacy is Compromised?
If you believe you might have revealed sensitive information about your organization, report it to the appropriate people within the organization, including network administrators. They can be alert for any suspicious or unusual activity.
If you believe your financial accounts may be compromised, contact your financial institution immediately and close any accounts that may have been compromised. Watch for any unexplainable charges to your account.
Check your credit reports for unusual activity.
Report your situation to local police, and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
Protecting Children Online
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act requires commercial websites to obtain parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13. For more information, contact the FTC about Children's Privacy.