Tax season is a primetime for online scams because it is the one time a year when the majority of people are sending personal and financial information using unfamiliar services or websites. Combine that with a collective fear of deadlines and penalties and people are more susceptible to than ever to unexpected communication with unknown sources. And it’s not just tax filers, Tax preparers are also more heavily targeted during this time of year. Now that tax season is here, we want to share a handful of tips to help everyone avoid common tax scams.
Tips To Stay Safe During Tax Season
1. File ASAP. By doing so you are essentially beating the thieves before they have a chance to file a fraudulent return. So, for all the procrastinators out there, this is a great reason to get your taxes done asap.
2. Be aware of the risks. Phishing emails and phone calls scams are rampant during tax season. We have also seen an increase in text message scams. Criminals know that people use their phones for everything and are now sending text messages appearing to be from trusted companies or government agencies. These scams are incredibly successful because of how difficult it is to distinguish a real site from a fake site on the small screen of handheld devices.
3. Use MFA. Multi-factor authentication should be on all your online accounts. Email, banking, shopping, and especially your online tax service. Be sure that the tax service you decide to use for online filing provides this additional security tool.
4. Avoid Public Wi-Fi. Doing your taxes at your favorite coffee shop might be more fun than doing it at home, but public Wi-Fi is often insecure. Cybercriminals can potentially intercept information being sent over public Wi-Fi.
5. If it didn’t come in the mail, its not the IRS. The IRS will not initiate contact with you by phone, email, or text. So, it is best to just ignore any digital correspondence claiming to be the IRS that is not a physical piece of mail. But even letters should be scrutinized for legitimacy.
6. Familiarize yourself with the IRS website. The irs.gov website is full of resources and information covering tax scams, new trends, and ways to report fraudulent activity. Simply visiting the sight will give you the insight of what the real IRS website looks and how it operates. This is beneficial if you are ever redirected to a fake IRS website during a tax scam.
While tax season does see a spike in phishing and social engineering, these threats are always present. Maintaining good cybersecurity habits and implementing the right cybersecurity tools will help keep your small business protected year-round. If your small business is looking for ways to improve its cybersecurity posture, reach out to Salvus TG today.