You may not even know that they got you. Hackers and scammers working their way into our lives are hitting more and more people than ever before with tricky methods proving profitable for the crooks and disastrous for the rest of us. Both the IRS and FBI are issuing warnings about a dramatic surge in fraudulent IRS tax scams.
There are a number of types of scams all leading to a desire for a crook to get your personal data so that they can impersonate you by filing tax returns and then stealing an IRS-issued tax refund.
HOW AN IRS TAX SCAM WORKS
The latest in a list of scams target your tax professional and tax software companies. A recent email scam impersonates a company CEO and looks totally legit. The CEO is asking for employees to update their W-2 info. But instead of the link in the email taking innocent employees looking to do the right thing for their big boss, it takes them to a bogus look-alike site meant to rip off their most prized personal financial details. Once in hand, the hackers take your personal data and cash it into a fake tax return that they swindle before you even know what hit you.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM GETTING SCAMMED
Here’s what is going to keep those tax-faking fools away from you in 2016:
Do not reply to any official-looking email or text from the IRS
Ignore social media messages on Facebook, Twitter asking for tax info
Don’t click a link within an unsolicited email or text
Report to IRS by forwarding to firstname.lastname@example.org
The IRS says it does not ask for personal or financial information by email.
Clicking a link often activates malware or takes you to a fake scam page designed to look legit
WHAT IF YOU SUSPECT A TAX SCAM IN PROGRESS
Email suspected scam and fake IRS web pages, forward to email@example.com
Text scams, forward potentially bogus text to 202-552-1226
Mailed letter, call 1-800-829-1040 to see if its legit
Phone call from someone claiming to be from IRS, Get their name, badge number, and caller ID number, then dial 1-800-366-4484 to verify IRS employee is legit
I wish there were a magic wand that could create a solution to keep this criminal activity from hitting us. There is no perfect solution. The best protection is awareness and to question any and all communications from anyone asking for any personal or financial information. Let that be your red flag to stop a crook in their tracks.
And do a friend a favor. Share these tips using the icons below to alert people you love.
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Kurt the CyberGuy is an award-winning journalist, investor and innovator who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life better. Our reports contain affiliate links that earn us a commission when a reader buys independently selected gadgets and gear within our articles. This supports our work investigating technology. More about our policies are here.
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