Protecting Yourself from Tax Scams
As technology continues to evolve so does the expertise of cyber-criminals. There have been numerous stories over the past few years about stolen identities and how the stolen information negatively affects the individual. According to the IRS, in 2018 there was a 60% increase in phishing scams that tried to steal money or tax data.
As tax season has come upon us, it is important to be aware of the scams that may occur while you file for your return. The following advice will help you understand how tax fraud happens, how to prevent it and what to do if you become a victim.
How Tax Fraud Happens
The most common way is through phishing messages often impersonating government officials and/or the IT department. Here are examples of what impersonators may say or do:
- Say a new copy of your tax form is available.
- Provide a link that looks official but takes you to a fraudulent site.
- Leave threatening messages via email, phone, text and on social media demanding payment that if not received, will result in harsh penalties. They often request victims to pay in strange ways, such as gift cards or prepaid credit cards.
How to Protect Yourself from Tax Fraud
- File your taxes as soon as possible.
- Always be wary of calls, texts, emails and websites asking for personal or tax information.
- Do not click on unknown links or open attachments from unsolicited messages.
- Only use trusted sites to conduct financial business.
- Use strong and unique passwords. Do not use the same passwords for different accounts.
- Shred any confidential paperwork.
- Check your financial accounts and your credit report for unauthorized activity.
If you receive any suspicious tax related phishing emails at work, report it according to your company’s cyber-security policy. If you receive any suspicious tax related phishing emails on your personal account, forward the email as an attachment to email@example.com or call the IRS at 800-908-4490.
What to Do if You Become a Victim
If you think you are a victim of any tax related scam or identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission provides a step by step recovery plan on https://www.identitytheft.gov/. This website will also allow you to see if a fraudulent return has been made in your name or if any of your personal information has been exposed.
At Ion Bank, we are committed to protecting the personal information of our customers. To learn more about other e-fraud protection services, visit our online Security Center today.
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