IT Security & Network Security News & Reviews: Fake IRS Scams to Dodge This Tax Season
The IRS Will Not Email You
If you get an email from the IRS, its safe to delete it, because the IRS will never email requests for more information or to say that there was an error in the return. Ignore the fancy logos or the colors. The IRS will always use the United States Postal Service to contact taxpayers, Cohen said.
Don't Bank in Public
Dont jump onto a free public WiFi at Starbucks or the library to quickly check your bank balance or you can fall to a man-in-the-middle attack. No matter what the news, it can wait an hour to get to a secured connection. Worst-case scenario: The phones 3G network is safer than an unsecured wireless network.
Don't Borrow from the IRS
A common phishing scam offers to let the victim borrow some money against the refund they have coming. Instead of waiting for the refund, the person can take out a loan. While its a legitimate practice, its one of the most frequently used tricks to phish bank details.
Don't Click on Links
Dont click on links, whether its from an email sent by your tax-filing program, a tax-prep service or a financial institution. If you think its legitimate, check the software, log in from the site or call the data provider directly (using a phone number on the site, not on the email) to follow up.
The IRS Won't Ask For Your Credit Card Information
If it turns out there is more to pay, rest assured the IRS wont be sending out an email request to pay the balance of the tax bill. Again, wait for a letter or call the number (not the one on the email) to verify the request.
The IRS Won't Email You About a Refund
On the same note, while you may get emails from your tax software reminding you about refunds, the IRS would never do that. If theres a bigger-than-expected refund coming your way, the news wont come via your in-box.
Choose a Reputable Tax Preparer
Dont go for the cheap fly-by-night tax-preparation service. There have been incidents of tax preparers charging improper fees and taking a portion of the refund. If you need someone, get recommendations or choose a well-known name, not one from an email that happened to be in your inbox.
Free Service Is Generally Fake
There have been incidents of tax-preparation services offering free assistance over email. If an unsolicited email asks for personal information so that "they" can "help" you, say no thanks. A legitimate service will encourage you to check them out and not ask for your information over email. Photo credit: Kay Bell for Dont Mess With Taxes.
Use Strong Passwords
Regardless of whether its for the online tax service or the email account where the bank sends electronic statements, make sure the passwords are strong and unique to the site.
No Padlock, No Security
When finalizing the taxes, whether filing the return or paying the taxes online, make sure its an encrypted HTTPS session. Depending on the browser, the address bar will be green or display a padlock icon indicating it is secured.
Ignore Unsolicited Emails
Unless you have opted to receive information from them directly, financial institutions will not solicit you out of the blue. Above all, dont open any attachments that are being sent by these institutions out of the blue, as they will generally contain malware.
If It's Too Good To Be True ...
It probably is. While a handy piece of advice, its generally very true when dealing with the IRS.