By: Emily Mosack, Security Consultant at FoxPointe Solutions
The end of the year and start of the new year mean tax season is approaching quickly. Tax season is one of the most active times for scammers. Thousands of people have become victims of tax scams and have lost millions of dollars as a result. In order to keep yourself safe during this time, it is important to stay on the lookout for cybercriminals and their common scams. Below are a few common scams as well as some tips and tricks that can help you stay alert for any threats.
One common scam to look out for is fake IRS messages
Keep in mind that if you are receiving phone calls, texts, emails, messages through social media, etc. from the IRS AND haven’t received a letter first, this is likely a tax scam. If the IRS needs to contact you, they will first send you a letter through the mail. It is important to notice who you are receiving emails, texts or calls from. If you are ever confused if it is real or fake, visit the IRS official website to contact them first to figure out if it was a scam or not.
Elderly parents as they are most at risk during tax season
Keep an eye out for elderly parents as they are most at risk. This group of people tend to be vulnerable to scams as they are more trusting and easily influenced. And on top of that, taxes can be very confusing, so it’s important to provide aid to the elderly to lower the chances of them being scammed.
A strong password is key during tax season
Most importantly, make sure you have a strong password. All accounts should have strong passwords that contain numbers, capitals, and special characters. This will make it harder for cybercriminals to hack into your account. It is key to make your password hard to guess, do not include any personal information such as birthdays. Never share your password with anyone. Another tip when creating accounts is to set up multi-factor authentication that ensures a two-step process into successfully logging into your account, whether it’s a one-time code sent through text or through another app to add that extra layer of security.
Be on the lookout for emails demanding urgent action
Lastly, pay attention to phishing email or smishing texts. Be on the lookout for emails demanding urgent action. This is a way cybercriminals scam people into sending money. Make sure you take a look at the whole email to see who its from and if you recognize the sender. Report all suspicious emails to IT and remember to never click on any links. Common scams include fake tax preparers, refund calculations, gift card scams, fake charity scam and so many more. Never enter any personal information unless it is from an authentic site.
For more information you can visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts concerning Tax scams and Consumer Alerts.