“Be Cyber Wiser”: Be Careful of Tax Season Scams
FAU Students, Faculty and Staff who have already filed their taxes this season can still be vulnerable to tax-related scams. Many schemes take advantage of users by alleging to have information about the filer’s refund, or noting a problem with the return that you previously filed.
If you haven’t file yet then please read the IRS and CERT recently released Caution Users on Scams for 2015, https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST15-001, which highlights common scam tactics, including those that occur online as PHISHING and offline, such as criminals who impersonate legitimate charities or agencies and place phone calls to victims to solicit money. Do not give out Personal Information to callers who are asking you to verify personal or sensitive information over the phone.
Vigilance about the security of your online activities is required every day, but is even more important during this time of year. Tax season can be stressful for a lot of people, and cyber criminals exploit this through targeted phishing attacks that try to scare you or entice you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
Here are some basic precautions that will minimize risk include the following:
1. Do not respond to emails appearing to be from the IRS. The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email or social media tools to request personal or financial information. The IRS does not send emails stating you are being electronically audited or that you are getting a refund. If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Do not send personal or sensitive information in an email. Criminals may intercept the information.
3. Do not open any attachments or click on links contained in suspicious emails. Common scams push tax rebates, offer you a great deal on tax preparation or offer a free tax calculator tool. If you did not solicit the information, it’s likely a scam.
4. Carefully select the sites you visit. Safely searching for tax forms, advice on deductibles, tax preparers, and other similar topics requires caution. Do not visit a site by clicking on a link sent in an email, found on someone’s blog, or on an advertisement. The website you land on may look just like the real site, but it may be a well-crafted fake.
5. Be wise about Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi hotspots are intended to provide convenient access to the Internet and are not necessarily secure against eavesdropping by hackers.
6. Secure your computer. Make sure your computer has the proper security controls, including up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall.
7. If your identity has been stolen follow steps given by the FTC at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft