What Cybercriminals Don’t Want You to Know
Identity thieves are working extra hard this tax season to steal your information and gain access to your money. These cybercriminals use email and phone scams to trick taxpayers into revealing valuable personal information.
In a tax tip article, “Don’t take the bait”, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says, “The most common way for cybercriminals to steal money, bank account information, passwords, credit cards and Social Security numbers is to simply ask for them.”
Scammers seek to fool people into sharing sensitive information under the guise of being a legitimate company, such as a bank, tax-preparation service, or even the IRS. They often involve spoofed email addresses and phone numbers, copycat webpages, or corrupt hyperlinks that contain malware.
Protect yourself by reading emails carefully:
- Do not open attachments or click on links unless you are able to verify the sender.
- Check email addresses for spelling and accuracy. Use a reliable search engine and go to the purported sender’s main web page to verify contact information.
- Use security software. Some anti-virus software can detect suspicious websites, malware, and viruses found in phishing emails.
Take your time and don’t let aggressive or urgent-sounding emails rattle you. Cybercriminals may use threatening language or pressing deadlines to compel you to act quickly. This is just a tactic to push you into making a careless mistake.
The IRS does not contact taxpayers with aggressive threats of lawsuits or arrest. Their tax tip article also says, “Remember that no legitimate business or organization will ask for sensitive financial information by email.”
Keep your personal information safe:
- Never give out personal information unless you are sure about who you are talking to. If you are unsure, investigate further by contacting the IRS.
- Use strong passwords or passphrases for email and sites containing your personal information, such as your bank, your company’s HRIS or payroll system, or e-commerce sites that save your credit card.
- Give personal information over encrypted websites only, and only if absolutely required to complete the task at hand.
- Look for sites that have “https” at the beginning of the URL and a lock symbol that you can click on to get more information about the website’s security settings.
- Use multi-factor authentication if it is available. Typically, this requires your name, password, and a separate security code that is sent to your mobile phone or email address to log in.
You already protect things like your family, home, car and pets. Maybe you even own a business and have cyber insurance coverage, because you know about the many risks posed by cybercriminals.
Now is the time to protect your personal data, so you don’t become the next victim of phishing or identity theft. Be aware of how you share your information, especially while filing your taxes, and don’t be afraid to investigate who you are dealing with.
Protect your tax information like you would your money:
- Keep tax returns locked in a safe place, or encrypted if they are electronically stored.
- Shred tax documents before throwing them away.
- Report phishing scams to the IRS by forwarding suspicious emails to email@example.com.
Cybercriminals are good at gaining trust and don’t want you to protect your data. But with a few simple precautions, you can safeguard your personal information and your money. For more information on identity theft or cyber liability insurance for yourself or your business, reach out to Kamm Insurance Group!