Cybercriminals love tax season! The amount of highly sensitive data constantly being shared among individuals and employers make this time of the year a busy one for cybercriminals. According to the IRS, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Criminals are using various tactics to trick people into believing they are with the IRS. These scams are particularly nasty as many are playing on fear and emotion to elicit quick action, oftentimes causing a person to fall into a trap before they even realize what happened. Even worse, these scammers often do their research and will know quite a bit about their target before they go after them.

Already filed your taxes? You aren’t in the clear yet. Tax fraud extends to refunds, too. Criminals will convince a taxpayer they have a refund coming in order to persuade them to provide personal information.

Tax scams can be tricky to identify, but with a little knowledge, preparation, and calm thinking, you can help decrease your chances of becoming a victim. Today we’re bringing you 3 tips on issues impacting businesses and individuals when filing taxes including identity theft, handling of personal information, scams and security protocols in case you become a victim.

Personal Tips:
1. Know that an official IRS tax representative will never contact you via phone, email, or even social media which is an immediate sign of a tax scam underway. IRS communicates via mail.
2. Be suspicious if a tax preparer emails you instead of you reaching out to them first. Keep an eye for generic greetings, weird looking links or poor grammar. Never open an attachment if you don’t know the sender.
3. If you are a victim of a tax scam, make sure you report it to the IRS and contact your financial institution immediately.

Business Tips:
1. Take the time to review the company’s response protocol in case of data breach. It’s important to make sure all employees know what to do if your company is victim of a data breach or identity theft.
2. Warn Employees to never click on links or open attachments from senders they don’t know. Tell them to be suspicious of emails asking for sensitive W-2 information, especially if they work in the payroll and human resource offices.
3. Employees should also be on the lookout for phishing emails. Criminals might try to impersonate the CEO or HR department of your company and send an “urgent” email requesting personal information be updated to resolve a “tax issue.”

Help family and friends be cyber safe this tax season. Share these tips on social media and via email with friends, family and co-workers. We’re in this together.

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