Tax season is well underway, making it one of the most popular times for individuals to become victims of scamming efforts and companies and accounting firms to experience data breaches. According to the IRS, tax refund fraud is expected to soar this tax season, hitting $21 billion this year from just $6.5 billion two years ago.
But what makes tax season so popular for people to become victims of scamming efforts? Hackers see it as a prime opportunity to socially engineer victims due to the nature of tax season itself – people are expecting money back on their returns.
Additionally, people are filling out forms, either by paper or online, which contain sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers, bank numbers, and more. This gold mine of personally identifiable information (PII) to steal and sell in the black market yields a high return for hackers.
In January, TaxAct reported about 450 customers may have had personal and tax return information stolen by cybercriminals. More recently, TaxSlayer reported 8,000 of its customers’ personal information may have been compromised. Both vendors claim