It seems as if we’re sending out an alert every few months on the topic of identity theft — scammers are constantly inventing new ways of tricking people into sending them money.
The IRS recently published an announcement that they’ve teamed up with state revenue departments and the tax industry to make people aware of the tactics scammers use and encourage taxpayers to be on the alert for schemes that target them.
What You Need to Look For
- Scammers pose as organizations that you trust, such as the IRS or your bank. They create convincing websites that look similar to the real websites of the organizations. Remember that no legitimate organization will ever ask for sensitive information over email. Also know that the IRS never sends unsolicited emails or makes phone calls with threats of lawsuits or jail.
- Scammers also hack into email addresses and send email from that account to listed contacts. You may receive an email with malware from a friend’s account. If an email subject line sounds suspicious, it’s best to email the sender directly and ask if he or she sent it.
- Malware gives scammers access to your computer or smartphone. If you suspect you may have opened an email with malware, you’ll want to talk with a computer professional to have it cleaned.
How You Can Protect Yourself
- Avoid opening suspicious-looking emails that appear to be from the IRS or other companies. Don’t click on the email or on any links — go directly to the website if you need to find information or contact someone.
- Never provide account or personal information to anyone who calls you on the phone or emails you.
- Don’t open attachments in emails unless you know for sure who sent it and what it contains.
- Download and install software only from websites you know and trust.
- Use security software to block pop-up ads, which can contain viruses.
- Make sure your family understands how to be safe online and on the computer.
To learn more about how to protect your personal and financial data, check out the IRS’s new resource, Taxes. Security. Together.