Tax Season is Scam Season

  • People continue to fall prey to clever cybercriminals who trick them into giving up Social Security numbers, account numbers or password information. These criminals use the information in many ways, including filing fraudulent tax returns.

    Be vigilant. The below security tips can help.

    And, if you have been targeted or victimized by a scam, report it. Forward IRS-related scam emails to phishing@irs.gov. Report IRS-impersonators at www.tigta.gov.

    Security Tips to Protect Yourself at Home and at Work

    • The IRS will not send you unsolicited email about a refund or a needed update to your account.
    • Be suspicious of emails that appear to be from the IRS or other companies. Do not click on the links in those emails; rather, go directly to the stated websites.
    • Don't open attachments in emails unless you know 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.
    • If you electronically save your tax records on your computer, always make an electronic backup in case your hard drive crashes. And, encrypt all of those files.
    • Properly dispose of old tax records. Never toss paper tax returns and supporting documents into the trash. Tax records, supporting documents, and financial and health records should be shredded before disposal.
    • Sensitive data is on everything -- your computer, any hard drive, tablet, and mobile phone. Deleting them and emptying your Trash/Recycle Bin will not remove them completely from your device. The hard drive needs to be wiped.

    If you'd like help in encrypting your files or wiping a hard drive, feel free to contact IT Information Security.

    Remember:  No legitimate organization -- not your bank, tax software company, the IRS -- will ask for sensitive information via unsecured methods such as email. And the IRS never sends unsolicited emails or makes calls with threats of lawsuits or jail.

    Here is a recent example of a tax scam email that is circulating Massachusetts higher education institutions. It refers to a W2 and website. The website link goes to a fake website that mimics the real Massachusetts HR website.

    Scam Tax MA Higher Ed 2016 Jan

    You can also check the IRS tax scams and consumer alerts to see what they are reporting.