Watch out for tax scams, cyber criminals looking to steal your data online

John Gregory Image
Thursday, April 4, 2024
Tax scams and stolen information: The top red flags to watch for
Over 200 million people will file their returns electronically this tax season - the perfect opportunity for scammers to seize your digital information.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Tax season can open the door to opportune scammers looking to capitalize on your identifiable data. Exposing your information, voluntarily or not, could leave you vulnerable to identity theft and ways to mitigate the risks.

Receiving digital communications is just one of a few ways cyber criminals will attempt contact.

"Think of it like a giant buffet table for cyber criminals and phone scammers. Over 200 million people will file their returns electronically this year," Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, said.

Through identity impersonations, scammers can pretend to act like a relative over the phone in order to pressure you into relinquishing information. You may even receive false W-2s in the mail alongside charity fraud donation flyers.

Protecting yourself is critical and starts with some simple tips.

Don't click on any suspicious links that could expose you to malware, in which scammers add hidden software to emails that infiltrate your computer system. The IRS will never contact you by text, email or phone, only through U.S. mail.

If you receive a phone call, text or email from the IRS or any tax agency, you can simply ignore it or block the sender. The hacker can only gain access to your data if you willingly give it up through phone calls or by clicking on links from unusual senders.

Experts say you should also consider using a password manager to protect your information.

"This is very important because it will encrypt and protect every password you use and all of your personal identifiable information - including files, photos, tax records, W-2 information and the like can be stored inside this military encrypted vault," Guccione said.

For scammers, your information is an easy way to make a quick buck, so be sure to stay aware and only file your taxes individually or with a reliable tax consultant.