It’s the income tax season in the U.S. and the usual phishing emails that pretend to be from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service are abound. These phishing emails that arrive at your computer inbox usually attempt to get personally identifiable information about you in order to steal your identity. They use a variety of schemes to do this, including requesting you go to a bogus Internet website posing as an IRS site and asking you to enter personal information into a form. According to a Businesswire.com article, “Another phishing scam involves an email that discusses supposed changes to tax laws and includes a downloadable document (usually in PDF format) that claims to explain the new laws. These files are populated with malware that, once downloaded, may infect the victim’s computer, potentially stealing or destroying data or causing other damage.”
However, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) offers tips for avoiding tax scams.
CIS offers the following tips:
- 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
- Do not send sensitive information in an email. Do not open any attachments or click on links contained in suspicious emails.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Implement the above tips as you use your computer and the Internet, in order to avoid being a victim of these fraudulent schemes. It’s important that you do.
References: Businesswire.com article;
Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.
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