It’s tax season once again! That, among other things, means that hackers and scammers are out in force, so beware!
As in years past, the primary vehicle hackers and scammers use to run their various tax scams are phishing emails. They’re usually designed to appear as though they come from the IRS, and generally indicating that there’s some type of problem with your tax record which will delay your refund.
The idea, of course, is to get you worried enough that you’ll click on one of the links embedded in the email. The link may look like it’s taking you to a page on the IRS.gov website, but is actually a cleverly disguised malicious site controlled by the hackers. Therefore, any information you enter on capture boxes on that site will be given to the hackers themselves.
This year’s wrinkle is that some hackers are also poisoning their sites and embedding them with malware that gets loaded onto a target’s computer in the background. This allows the hackers nearly complete access to whatever system the RAT malware strain winds up on.
One other additional concerned this tax season lies in the fact that the IRS recently announced an extension. In normal years, the deadline for tax filing is April 15th. This year, the IRS has extended it to May 17th, which gives the hackers and scammers an even larger window in which to attempt to take advantage of people.
All of the usual safety precautions apply here. Remember that the IRS will never ask you for any personal information via email and if you suspect that there’s a problem with your account, or with the taxes you may have already filed. The best approach is to manually type in the IRS’ web address, rather than clicking on any link embedded in an email. Even better, pick up the phone and speak with someone at the IRS directly.