A new email phishing scam is targeting tax professionals by impersonating tax software providers and attempting to steal usernames and passwords, according to the IRS.
The hacking efforts come at a time of year when software providers issue upgrades and tax professionals are working to meet the Oct. 15 deadline for extension filers.
The bogus emails contain “Software Support Update” in the subject line and highlight “Important Software System Upgrade.” It thanks recipients for continuing to trust software providers to serve their tax preparation needs. It also mimics the software providers’ email templates.
The emails state that, due to a software upgrade, tax professionals must revalidate their logins. They provide a link to what is a fictitious website that looks like the software provider’s actual login page.
But instead of actually upgrading their software, tax professionals end up giving their login information to crooks who use it to access professionals’ accounts and to steal client information.
Tax professionals who get these emails are advised to send them to the tax software provider.
Windows users should follow this process to assist investigators of these scams:
Save the scam email by using “Save As”.
Under “Save as Type” in the drop-down menu, select plain text and save to the desktop.
Don’t click on any links.
Open a new email and attach the saved email as a file.
Send a new email with the attached file to the tax software provider and to [email protected].
The latest alert is part of the 10-week “Don’t Take the Bait” campaign by the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry – acting together as the Security Summit – to heighten awareness of cybercriminals’ tactics and to make known steps that tax professionals can take to protect their clients and themselves.
Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.