Information Security Minute – Income Tax Fraud

Security lock collage

It is tax season once again and the scam artists are out in full force. So please take a minute to read through this timely information on tax fraud.

The prevalence of tax related identity theft is not a small problem. In Fact, in 2015, there were 600,000 incidents of tax fraud related identity theft reported by the IRS.

Though the figures are staggering, there are some things you can do to protect yourself:

  • File your taxes early. Beat the fraudsters to the punch. If your return has already been filed, the fraudster is out of luck.
  • Ask Before You Share. If you are asked for something sensitive such as a Social Security Number (SSN), make sure you know who is asking and why
  • Protect your PC. Keep security software on your computer devices, and keep it updated. Think of it like locking the doors and windows of your house to protect who and what is inside.
  • Secure Personal Items. Theft of physical items like purses, wallets and documents thrown in the trash are still tactics used by identity thieves.
  • Watch out for IRS impostors. Scammers know that many Americans have a fear of owing money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and they often use this to their advantage. IRS impostors may call or email to threaten you with arrest or other legal action in hopes that you will send money or give out sensitive information. Alternatively, a scammer may tell you that you are entitled to a large refund if you provide sensitive information over the phone.
  • Be Skeptical. A healthy dose of suspicion can be good for you sometimes! Do not respond to an unsolicited email or phone call that requests your private or sensitive information, or those where you are directed to a website via an embedded link. Creative thieves can make messages and webpages look authentic.

For more information on w-2 related scams, check out this excellent article:
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/02/irs-scam-blends-ceo-fraud-w-2-phishing/

For more information on identity theft, go to:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0008-tax-related-identity-theft
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft

Let’s be safe out there!

Mark A. Brown | Chief Information Security Officer