While many of us may be thinking of ways to spend our tax returns, hackers are busing thinking of ways to steal our money. The possibilities are endless:
- Identity theft – Someone else filing your return using your social security number.
- Fake web sites – These sites are designed to lure victims in and tricking them into giving up sensitive information.
- Fake software – Over the last few years, there has been a rise in fake software that simply does not work or further infects your computer.
- Phishing and fake emails from the IRS – Fake emails supposedly from the IRS (which are not) that seek to have you open an attachment or install a program. An example of such an email is shown below:
This phishing technique has become even easier as hackers can now download prepacked phishing kits that allow them to do everything needed to setup a scam. These Do-it-Yourself (DIY) phishing kits can be found on many hacker sites.
Here are some helpful tips:
- If you suspect fraud with your social security number, you can call at (800) 772-1213.
- Avoid suspicious emails as the IRS does not directly send notices of tax refunds.
- If you have opened such emails or attachments, run a current version of anti-virus against your computer or at least, run the Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool; it is free and available at: http://www.microsoft.com/security/malwareremove/default.aspx
- Purchase only name brand tax filing software
- For any tax filing you do online, make sure that the URL begins with https (for example, https://www.irs.gov/) and check to see is a tiny padlock appears at the bottom right of the screen.