It’s true – the two things you can’t get around are death and taxes. Not legally, as far as taxes are concerned. Making tax season even worse, scammers look on it as a golden opportunity.
Scams directed towards the tax season
Conmen send emails telling you that you’re in trouble for back taxes owed, or requesting clarification on your latest return. These are actually phishing scams with links to web pages set up to capture personal information – social security numbers, credit card numbers, passwords, and more. PIN numbers and other IRS e-service info gives them online access to all your tax information. Armed with this, scammers can steal your identity and leave you with bad credit and empty bank accounts.
How scams have evolved
Not satisfied with trolling for victims with phishing emails, these fraudulent emails have evolved into a technique called “long-lining.” Many email providers have phishing filters that can recognize the source of phishing emails. Scammers have learned to defeat this filter by making emails individualized, varied in content and subject line, and coming from multiple IP addresses. This artificial customization allows them to slip past security filters.
Links in these long-line scams will lead to legitimate sites that hackers have compromised beforehand. This convincing deception nets many trusting people, since taxes and the IRS are one subject people find worrisome. The IRS reports that these phishing scams have increased by 400% this season.
Other con-artists haunt social media sites like Facebook querying unsuspecting users for information they can use to dig into a person’s tax history.
One group of scammers targeted the social site Snapchat. Posing as IRS agents, they convinced company officials to send out W-2 information on employees. The same tactic worked with Seagate, the tech company known for making computer hard drives.
How to avoid being scammed
The IRS, faced with growing numbers of tax-related scams has posted on its website that they do not use email, texting, or social media to request personal taxpayer information. Any unsolicited email coming from the IRS should be regarded as suspect.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind:
- Ensure you have up-to-date firewall and anti-malware software, and the latest patches for browser and email security.
- Use unique, “strong” passwords for each account.
- Encrypt and password-protect old tax returns on your computer.
- Learn to identify phishing emails and the latest phishing scams.
- Look for the latest IRS news and warnings online.
- Shred all hard copies of tax information before throwing them in the trash.
Do not share personal information with anyone on social media.
Paying income tax is not something anyone looks forward to, but it’s wise to remember that all tax data is sensitive information that could seriously jeopardize your financial state if it falls into the wrong hands. The government doesn’t like it any better – the IRS encourages you to report these phishing attempts.
You, your company, and your employees are at risk from scammers all over the world reaching out across the Internet. Protect yourself this tax season by using the services of IT experts at CTG Tech who can upgrade security and improve awareness.