IT | Security

Crimes in Tax Season - What to Expect

By: Absolute Team | 2/21/2013

Tax season brings with it a burst of criminal activity. As we shared in the previous post, tax crimes affect millions of people each year and cost billions of dollars. Aside from

The types of crimes that play off of tax season include:

  • Phishing attacks by those claiming to be government agencies (FBI, IRS, SSA)
  • Phishing schemes that attempt to get you to "verify" your information to claim a refund, threaten a loss of benefits, claim an inheritance or receive a tax credit
  • Theft of devices to gain access to personal information for fraud schemes
  • Hacking of devices / wireless networks to gain access to personal information
  • Hacking of large databases of information for large criminal tax fraud schemes
  • Accountants / tax preparers who suggest inflating your refund by faking your information
  • Tax preparers who skim off client refunds
  • Purposefully cheating your own taxes by altering information or evading taxes altogether (these are crimes)
  • Scams spread by flyers and word of mouth offering 'free money' from the IRS (for a fee)

Tax Season Safety Tips

Online Tips

  • Don’t click on suspicious links in emails, on social networking sites, or in text messages
  • Log into secure (https) sites
  • Check URLs for accuracy before clicking on them (hover over them to verify it matches the text)
  • Never access personal information on free WiFi connections (email, banking, social networking, shopping) or avoid unsecured / unfamiliar wireless networks altogether. Consider setting up a VPN as a safer alternative.
  • Be cautious in sharing your Social Security Number (more SSN tips here)
  • Turn on privacy settings on your social networks
  • Don’t share personal information like full name, date of birth, home address, telephone number, or social insurance number
  • Keep your operating system and your software up-to-date on all data devices
  • Install anti-virus / anti-malware software
  • Avoid smishing attacks via text messaging (here's what to look for)
  • If an email looks fake, delete it without opening it
  • If you think an email is authentic from a government agency, independently look up a phone number online (don't click links), then call to deliver the information instead
  • Don't send tax documents by email – to your spouse, accountant, or anyone. Mail it instead!
  • Use strong passwords
  • Install software to track / wipe data from your devices

Other Security Tips

  • Don’t leave your computer on when not in use; this leaves it open to attacks
  • Don't carry your SSN with you
  • Thoroughly research the tax preparer you plan to work with
  • Be suspicious of tax preparers who promise larger returns than normal. who do not give you a copy of your tax return, offer to split the refund in exchange for fees or encourage false information on your return
  • Keep your bag securely on your person in public (not on the back of a chair or left unattended)
  • Secure personal information in your home.
  • Shred personal information that is no longer needed
  • Store previous tax returns in a safe
  • Be suspicious of any offer that appears to be 'too good to be true'