Like a rite of spring, fraudsters have ramped up their efforts to steal taxpayer and tax preparer information during the tax busy season.
The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry — known collectively as the Security Summit — are warning of early signs that cybercrooks are working their little fingers off sending emails that pose as prospective clients, or even the IRS itself, to trick tax preparers into forking over sensitive information.
Tax preparers should be extra careful about communicating only by email with existing or potential clients, especially in light of numerous prior breaches that have stolen millions of names, addresses, Social Security numbers and email addresses. To be on the safe side, tax preparers should call to confirm a client’s identity.
“Thieves may try to leverage stolen identities to steal even more data that will allow them to better impersonate taxpayers and file fraudulent tax returns for refunds,” the IRS said in an announcement about the cybercriminals.
Tax preparers recently have reported numerous phishing efforts by crooks who pose as potential clients. Like last year, the tactic is intended to trick preparers into opening a link or attached document.
About Terry Sheridan
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.