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Tax-related scams: A detailed insight on how scammers take advantage of this tax season and trick victims

Finance, Service, Refund, Business, Filing Documents, 1040 tax form
  • These campaigns impersonate legitimate tax authorities such as the US Internal Revenue Service, Canada Revenue Agency, and the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department.
  • These campaigns either attempt to drop malware into victim’s systems or lure victims into submitting their financial information.

As it is tax season in the US, scammers are flooding US citizens’ email inboxes with tax-related phishing scams. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as US citizens are busy filing their taxes, scammers are even more busy in targeting US taxpayers with new scams.

It is to be noted that these scammers not only impersonate IRS and tax authorities but also tax-preparation and accounting companies. These campaigns either attempt to drop malware, downloaders, or banking trojans into victim’s systems or lure victims into submitting their financial information.

These campaigns impersonate legitimate tax authorities such as the US Internal Revenue Service, Canada Revenue Agency, and the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department.

Types of Tax-related scams

Tax-related phishing scam

  • In phishing scams, scammers send emails to taxpayers purported to come from the IRS.
  • These phishing emails include HTML attachments or URLs, which upon clicking opens an online form or redirects victims to a spoofed IRS login page.
  • The online form asks for victims’ financial information, while the login page collects victims’ login credentials.
  • After which, victims are redirected to the official IRS page.

Tax-related phone call scam

IRS impersonation phone call scam purporting to come from an IRS agent has been observed this tax season. The robocall urges you to call a toll-free number and speak to the IRS agent to get the tax-related issue resolved. It then tricks victims into providing their personal information as well as bank account details.

Tax-related identity theft scheme

In this type of scam, scammers use stolen Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification numbers to claim tax returns or refunds. Scammers are also involved in the illicit filings of corporate income tax returns using the stolen identities.

Tax-related extortion scam

In this scam, scammers threaten victims into paying the ransom by claiming that their computer network has been hacked and it has been found out that they are hiding their taxes from tax authorities. They then demand 2 bitcoins, otherwise, they will release all the tax-related documents to the tax department, lock the operating system, DDoS the network, and install WannaCry ransomware.

How to stay protected?

  • Security experts recommend organizations to educate their employees on facts that IRS will never call or email individuals and demand immediate tax payment or payment information.
  • It is best to never open any email or attachments that come from anonymous senders.
  • It is always best to check the authenticity of the email address before opening the email.
  • Experts recommend filing your taxes early and ensuring your personal information and credentials are secure.
  • In case if you’ve received an email purported to be from the IRS, then immediately report to IRS authorities.
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