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Getting Ready for Tax Season? Beware of a Spike in Fraud

Find out how to identify tax-related scams and how to protect yourself.

As the April 15 deadline for the 2019 tax season gets closer, the IRS is cautioning taxpayers to expect a surge in identity theft cases and tax fraud. Find out what tactics cybercriminals are using to attempt to steal your refund check and drain your bank account.

Read More: New WhatsApp Scam Spoofs Walmart to Spam Users

If the Phone Rings…
Phone calls from scammers posing as IRS officials remains the most common tactic to try to pressure victims into settling an outstanding return over the phone. Frequently, the callers use aggressive tactics and threats of arrest or deportation to demand payment using specific methods such as a prepaid debit card. If you ever receive such a call, hang up immediately and report it online. The IRS has a section on their official website with instructions on reporting fraud:

Be Vigilant on Email
Tax phishing through email is another popular method. It involves emailing a transcript with links to an official-looking website for you to review your tax information online. These links contain password-stealing malware. Do not open or click on any suspicious emails that appear to come from the IRS. There are instructions for forwarding emails like this on the official IRS website.

Tax Rebates? Don’t Be Fooled
More specific tax scams involve claiming false tax credits are available to offer rebates on your taxes based on your social security number and supposedly require little to no documentation. No such credits exist and scammers are attempting to trick you into giving them personal information to commit fraud against you.

Do Your Civic Duty Cautiously
Donations to fake charities are another tactic seen during the tax season but also pop up throughout the year. Cybercriminals love to take advantage of well-intentioned individuals eager to help after natural disasters. Fake disaster relief benefits often spring up within hours of major national emergencies or create charities with similar names to well-known organizations and in some cases, even spoof the names of real relief agencies. The promise of your donation being tax deductible makes sending money seem even more appealing. Vet these organizations carefully before donating!

In addition to reporting scams to the IRS, screening your phone calls, emails or other solicitations, you can also protect yourself with dfndr security. The anti-hacking feature automatically alerts you to malware links before you click them. You can also use dfndr’s Identity Theft Report to find out if your email has been stolen and leaked by hackers.