Hackers Target Taxpayers with Ransomware During Tax Season
As if tax season wasn’t stressful enough, hacking groups claiming to be the IRS, are targeting victims with malware and ransomware.
The wonderful joy of tax season, a fresh honey glazed ham out of the oven and as many jellybeans as you could ever want!
Wait, did I get that wrong? Oh, yes, we’re talking about tax season with receipts and paperwork galore; it may not be an exciting event like a spring feast, but it might lead to a decent refund! However, with hackers waiting for every opportunity to scam the system, ransomware has reared its ugly head again.
An essential start to staying protected should be to use an app on your smartphone such as dfndr security, which provides anti-hacking protection by scanning and blocking any possible malicious links in your web browser, emails, or your chatting/messaging apps. A little piece of security goes a long way.
We keep mentioning taxes, but what does this piece of ransomware have to do with your citizenly duties? The malware itself was found in an email when a hacker pretended to be a representative from the IRS. Ransomware is a type of malicious malware that will install itself on your phone or computer, typically locking down access to any files or material until a monetary payment is made to the cybercriminal.
Granted, this specific scheme wasn’t that slick since he was posing as a US agent sending an email from a UK email address and included a German language document.
This form of attack is known as phishing and tricks an individual into believing they are interacting with a trustworthy source. In this case, the attacker posed as a government official. The multi-continental and bilingual email may have been easy to spot, but there are other online scammers with savvier skills that can trick you into downloading malware.
Unfortunately, once you’ve fallen victim to ransomware, you could pay the ransom with no guarantees your data is returned safely.
It’s important when you receive an email or phone call, to double check the source. Look at the ‘From’ field to see the full email address. In this case, it wasn’t an ‘IRS.gov’ email address, let alone one originating from the US. Read the address carefully and make sure it’s spelled correctly — small typos can be missed.
When it comes to IRS tax season, the agency notes they will never reach out via email to request personal information. If you do come across any email phishing scams from the IRS, forward the email to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ to report it and help prevent others from falling prey to scams.
If you receive a phone call, the IRS suggests writing down the supposed employee’s name and badge number. Then, dial the official IRS number at 1-800-366-4484 to check if the request was authentic.