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Every New year starts with joys and hope. We hope to get new things. And think about money we will need for them. One source of money is tax refund. Most of us get some EXTRA cash from refund! With that hope of getting refund, we gather all necessary documents for filing tax return. These documents come from employer, banks, mutual funds, and so on. They have our PII (personally identifiable information) and PSI (sensitive financial information). Those who are there for IRS/Tax scams, they want them too.
IRS/Tax Scam artists are active in the cyberspace
Guess, in the New Year, who are more active than us! Malicious cyber-criminals, who are creating tax scams with phishing methods that have sophisticated and intricate social engineering techniques. They want to steal PII and PSI for getting money from us. They will use phishing, malwares, spyware, keylogger and many other creative tools. The big question to ask: Is my cybersecurity fences are up-to-date for protecting me from phishing, malwares, spyware, and keylogger so that malicious actors cannot get my PII and PSI?
How Scam Artists Get PII and PSI
A large number of licensed tax attorneys and accountants are preparing taxes for their clients. Not all the tax preparers are aware of all sources of cybersecurity problems or follow secure PII and PSI hiding in their communications. Those scammers are waiting praying on these professionals using phishing emails. Unsuspecting professionals are becoming phishing victims. They are proving data to wrong hands.
IRS spreading Tax Scam awareness
Every year IRS issues warnings in the mainstream media. Is this sufficient to stop the tax frauds? Definitely NO.
Each and every citizen should protect their own data. They have to follow strict cyberspace communication practices to prevent stealing of information by scammers who pretend to be your helping agent.
Who should worry about IRS/Tax Scams
The short answer: everyone. However, attacks are customized. Most vulnerable group is senior citizens, because they are least aware of the cyberspace scams and least prepared to deal with cybersecurity. Below are a list of tips that should be useful for everyone.
What you can do to avoid Tax Scams
Following are the few tips that each and everyone of us should follow to avoid tax scams.
- Do not disclose the W2 Information (Social Security Number, Employer Identification Number of taxable income information) via. phone or by any other means to an unauthorized entity. Because, they are phishing for your information, which could be used for many scams.
- If you get a phone call from IRS – it is definitely a SCAM call. Because, IRS will never contact anyone via. phone. Also, IRS will never request you an immediate money transfer.
- Do not send any of these documents to unwarranted email address. Sometimes email address may have a display name as “IRS Department”. However, the email itself could be a bogus one such as IRSdepartment@usgovernment.com or something similar.
- Sometimes seeking help form an unauthorized tax-filing accountant could be an inexpensive way to file your taxes. However, if your information is not secure, you might have to face consequences that might cost you more in the long run. Seek professional organizations to do the tax filing if you require assistance.
- Never forget – Your full name, date of birth, identification document (Driver’s license, Passport etc.,) and the Social Security Information – are very personal and sensitive information. You shall never be disclosed then unless required by law. Because, with this information anyone can make a fraudulent transaction on your name.
- Stay Alert! Think multiple times before you disclose your information.
- IRS will never send you an email. You can ignore all emails that claims to be from IRS. If you are in doubt, call the IRS at 1-800-366-4484.
You can also perform a web search on Google® News for “Tax Scams” or “IRS Scams” and see how many articles available on various News media about tax scams.
Here is the link to IRS website to learn more about tax frauds and how to avoid them. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-pros-must-take-steps-to-protect-data-from-cybercriminals