Tax Season Is Phishing Season

Phishing is amongst the most popular and the most dangerous types of cybercrime that can cause major financial loss, among other things. And tax season is phishing season. The IRS and state tax agencies are warning taxpayers to stay alert of these scams that can take advantage by stealing valuable information. As everyone is gearing up for tax preparation, taxpayers are particularly vulnerable at this time of the year. Criminals would want to benefit from this situation. Thus, it is wise to be prepared.

How to identify a phishing attack?

To protect oneself from an attack, we must gain knowledge about the attacker and their methods. Let us learn about a few common phishing schemes and how you can spot them to avoid being scammed.

Email Phishing

We are all aware of spam emails that reach our inbox. These are usually badly written, with a warning to scare you, asking about your bank account details, or a card payment failure. These emails contain a link or an attachment. They are sent in masses in the hope that someone will be naive enough to open them.

If the email is sent from a bogus/suspicious address and does not have your name on it, it is probably a phishing scam. Do not click on any links or download any attachments.

Spear Phishing

This can be referred to as a specific kind of phishing where a few details about the target is already known to the attacker. Here it is easier to trap the target and getting sensitive information out of them.

Do not open email attachments until they are from a trusted source. Better to be safe than becoming history.

Whaling

These are more sophisticated attacks that mainly target the higher management of a company. They are subtle, and difficult to catch as criminals are trying to imitate members of the senior staff. The key here is to be aware and careful of the information being asked in an email.

Criminals value tax forms as they include every sensitive information that they could possibly need, including Social Security Numbers and bank details. Thus, check the authenticity before filling in your details. Even filling and then not submitting can compromise your data.

Vishing and Smishing

While the end goal remains the same, here the medium changes to the telephone. Vishing means fraud through calls and smishing involves text messages. The fraudster calls the target posing as an agent from the bank and informs the victim that their account has been compromised. The victim, if they believe it, goes into a panic mode and provides their details in the name of verification or to transfer money to a safer account. Unsuspecting individuals still get trapped in the act and lose their savings, which is why this scheme still makes the Dirty Dozen list of the IRS.

Never share your personal information via call or email. A bank agent will never ask you for sensitive details. Remember, if it sounds suspicious, it probably is.

Social Media Phishing

Social media has become a great tool for people to connect, but it also means your personal life is out there for the world to see. Criminals can very easily use the data posted on these sites and use it to their own benefit.

Thousands of Facebook users received notification of being mentioned in a post in 2016. This downloaded a Trojan in the browser when clicked. The compromised browser thus could be easily used by the hacker to steal information and spread the same infection through the user’s friends.

Warnings by the IRS

The tax season is the most wonderful time of the year for scammers. The IRS has warned taxpayers not to fall for these fraud activities pretending to be from the IRS. Always remain alert.

You may also like: Tax Season 2019 Ultimate Guide – The Basics, Tax Plan Changes & 2018 Tax Filing Deadlines

A stream of New Email Phishing Scams

Phishing tops the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list issued by the IRS on fraudulent activities. A 60% increase in the bogus emails with the aim of stealing money or tax data were noted in the year 2018. While there was a decline in the numbers for the previous years, this huge increase clearly shows that criminals are on the rise.

During this time of the year, emails containing malware with subject lines like “IRS Important Notice” or “IRS Taxpayer Notice” are sent by criminals demanding payment or threatening to seize tax refund. Do not respond to these emails or click on the links/attachments. Forward them to phishing@irs.gov and delete them.

Phone Scams are Still Popular

Callers posing as representatives of the IRS threaten to arrest the taxpayers until payment is made through a debit card or wire transfer. Mind you, these people are very clever. They can say that your warning letters were returned undelivered and create panic. They may know some of your personal information to prove that they are legitimate (which they are clearly not) and milk money out of innocent taxpayers.

In case this happens, remind yourself the following:

  • The IRS never calls to demand payment over the phone.
  • The IRS will never threaten to bring in local law enforcement immediately.
  • They will never demand any amount without giving you an opportunity to appeal why.
  • They never ask for a specific mode of payment, or for credit/debit card number over the phone.

Do not engage with such a caller. Do not give out any information. The best thing to do is just hang up. You can also contact Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the scam call by calling 1.800.366.4484 or by filling out the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form on their website.

There are various ways to safeguard your information and identity online. Watch this space for more articles on tax season, the IRS and security hacks.

About us:

Sagenext is a leading cloud hosting provider for tax and accounting applications. They are dedicated to empowering modern CPAs, accounting professionals, startups and SMBs by providing a comprehensive range of reliable, scalable, secure, and pocket-friendly cloud-based solutions.

Share this post on

Start Your Free Trial

Testimonials

Continued support

I would like to thank you for your continued support. I’m so glad everything turned out well. I owe you one.

Vishal Savadiya

Prompt service

George was outstanding; he fixed my issue within a couple of minutes and got me back to work! Thank you for such prompt service!

Lyndsey Chapman

Best tech support

Your tech person resolved this issue to the best of my satisfaction. He is very knowledgeable, helping and nice person. Thank you for this help.

Bipin Bhatt
KB Accounting & Tax Services

Exceptional service

I appreciate the exceptional service that Duke Williams always provided us at JS Morlu. He is patient, knowledgeable and extremely helpful.

John S. Morlu
Global Managing Partner

Quick response

As always, It was a very positive experience having your technician solve the issue we were currently experiencing.

Brad Pollack
Retail Service Options

Kristi PArker

Was assisted with permission setting, easy process. Thank you.

Origin Books

Mary L Zembruski

They have always promptly resolved any issues I have contacted them about.

Wilson Landscaping

Christopher Hutzel

Easy of working and very helpful

Christopher Hutzel
Compactor Service

Mandy Leong

Great customer service

Mandy Leong
Managed Staffing

Taylor Hill

Not a problem since I started years ago. Support is amazing and couldn’t be quicker. Just tonight, I emailed them and within 1 hour David helped me through an issue and resolved it as quick as I could have asked. Glad I found these guys.

Taylor Hill
Hill Tax, Payroll & Bookkeeping

Serina McCoy

Service was very quick to resolve the issue we had with logging in. Michael Olson emailed and called with in a few minutes on realizing we had an issue and had us back up and working quickly.

Serina McCoy
Gilberts Mobile Service

Mark Tevrucht

thank you reason for stars is my opion nothing is perfect

Mark Tevrucht
T&T AUTO & TRUCK

Nancy Evans

Easy to work with Aaron.

Nancy Evans
Nancy P Evans CPA PC

Tom Cloninger

Excellent service! Very responsive!

Tom Cloninger
RAN Accounting & Consulting

Rich Durso

Anderson solved my issue quickly and efficiently!

Rich Durso
RTD

Juli Hale

We’ve been very happy with the service so far. I would highly recommend Sagenext for hosting QuickBooks and other software. Thank you Michael Olson!

Juli Hale
Vico Plastics, Inc.

Nabila Qureshi

Great Customer service and support. Will highly recommend Aaron was very helpful and knowledgeable

Nabila Qureshi
Tax King USA Inc

Yelena V Moshkovsky

Great service with persistence to solve the issue and easy to reach. Anderson was a lot of help with my remote desktop issue.

Yelena V Moshkovsky
Supporting Strategies

IT Director

Sage Next have been great. We moved from 2 other quickbooks hosting providers to SageNext because it is the fastest server we could find which makes working on it much easier for our team. That plus their team is always available and very helpful!

IT Director
American Foods

Victoria

Very happy with the functionality of the hosted environment and excellent customer service. A human always answers the phone quickly and is always knowledgeable and resolve any issue quickly. Thank you Michael and your support team.

Victoria
Abacus

Cristen Rolen

Worst support team who are getting more time ever.

Cristen Rolen
Cristen CPA Firms

Ed

Aaron was extremely helpful, and resolved my issue quickly and professionally. Sagenext hosting services has been reliable, and support has always been great.

Ed
Zigo Associates

Peg Kelly

Michael Olson was very helpful, professional, knowledgeable and kind. He’s a keeper should have more employees like him. Highly recommend Sagenext.

Peg Kelly
All Star Therapy

Jon Graff

Support has been terrific, every time I’ve had issues I’ve been able to get help quickly which has resolved any issues. Michael Olson recently helped me resolve a backup issue. Thank you Sagenext

Jon Graff
The Reason Foundation

Candi

Prompt support when needed!

The College Music Society

Stacy

Sage is wonderful! Aaron was an incredible help to me!

Elfand & assoc

Brenda

Thank you so much! I use Quickbooks on their servers and they are very helpful for all my computer needs. Thank you Michael for your great support.

BDKdoor

Gwendolyn Terrell

Customer Service was great they was able to fix the issue in a timely matter.

National Tax Center

Newsletter

Free Trial

Sagenext Trial