Tax Season Scams
Tax Scams are back and spreading fast!
That time of the year has arrived, as income tax filing season emerges in full swing so do scammers eagerly waiting to steal valuable data and your money.
Cyber-criminals are becoming smarter in developing sophisticated schemes that can easily deceive anyone. From perfectly constructed emails that look legitimate to fake phone calls claiming to be from the IRS… it’s all coming back and the scams are spreading faster than ever!
Better, Faster, Stronger IRS Scam
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the W-2 scam is the “most dangerous phishing email in the tax community”.
It’s most likely you wouldn’t take the bait if you received an email from someone claiming to be from the IRS saying that you owe money. That is why, fraudsters have stepped up their game and created a variation of a phishing email known as business email compromise (BEC). Here’s how the scam works: cyber-criminals will identify people from inside your company that has access to sensitive information (commonly from human resources or finance department) and send an email posing as them asking for W-2 information. Subsequently, fraudsters will use the information they obtain from the forms such as your name, social security number, address and income to file falsified tax returns or sell your information on the dark web.
In addition to avoiding email scams during tax season, you should be wary of unsolicited phone calls from thieves claiming to be IRS officials.
Watch out for these red flags:
- The IRS will never ask for personal or financial information through a phone call or demand payment information.
- Communication from the IRS is made through mail and they will not send you an unsolicited email requesting you to click on links.
- The IRS will not call to threaten to arrest you for owing money.
Stay safe online
- Don't wait until the last day, file your returns early. While the IRS will start processing paper filings until mid-February, it’s important to get a head start in filling out forms and preparing your documentation for submission. Remember, the earlier you have everything figured out, the less time you give criminals to scheme against you!
- Review your previous tax returns. That can provide you with a good idea this year about what to expect. Update this year tax forms with any changes like a new job.
- Protect your personal information. Keep your information safe by installing the proper security software and firewalls on your computer, changing your passwords regularly and store your tax records in a safe place.
Taxes are difficult enough already without having someone steal your identity and scamming you out of your own money. Stay alert this year so you are not the next victim of cyber tax fraud!