Tax season makes fools of many of us. Between confusion over complex filing rules and a general desire to claim the greatest possible refund, tax season is a cybercriminal’s paradise.
On the business side, accountants and payroll departments slammed with extra seasonal work are targeted for W2 scams. Ordinary people are more likely to encounter scams based on the promise of a tantalizing refund or a Nigerian-style twist involving magical refunds to be sent to a “collection agency.”
Of course, tax-themed phishing and malware are just seasonal icing on the year-round scam-cake that is modern, online living. Take the usual precautions — and perhaps be even a bit more wary than usual — to stay safe this tax season.
- Treat all communications with great care. Criminals dip into a varied bag of tricks that include phishing e-mails (usually looking like official communications from the IRS or other national tax organization), phishing phone calls, and fraudulent downloads posing as app updates.
- Complete your tax returns early. We’re not being preachy, here — if you’re not rushing to get your tax return in on time, you’ll have time to consider carefully any e-mails, phone calls, or software updates that come your way.
- Rely only on sources you trust for refund information. Reliable sources include a known tax professional and government agencies. If in doubt, double-check over the phone or in person — and use publicly available contact information, not a phone number or e-mail address from the communication you’re trying to verify.
- Ensure all transactions take place over a secure connection such as a VPN. If using a mobile app to file, be sure it, and any updates, are legit.
- Treat e-mail messages with care, and don’t click on suspicious or unexpected attachments or links.
- Use a security solution with features that prevent financial fraud, such as the Safe Money feature in Kaspersky Lab solutions, which creates a secure environment in which financial transactions are specifically protected.
Tax season is hard enough without losing your money to cybercriminals — and getting ripped off is not tax-deductible.