It’s tax season once again, and Tax Time Brings Out the Hacker. It also means hackers and scammers are out in force, so beware!
As in years past, the primary vehicle hackers and scammers use to run their various tax scams are phishing emails. Their designs appear as though they come from the IRS and generally indicate that there’s some problem with your tax record that will delay your refund.
The idea, of course, is to get you to click on one of the links in the email. The link may look like it’s taking you to a page on the IRS.gov website, but it really a malicious site controlled by hackers. Consequently, it will give any information to the hackers.
This year’s wrinkle is that some hackers are also poisoning their sites and embedding them with malware that loads onto a target’s computer in the background. The embeds allow the hackers nearly complete access to whatever system the RAT malware strain winds upon.
One other additional concerned this tax season lies in the fact that the IRS recently announced an extension. In normal years, the deadline for tax filing is April 15th. This year, the IRS has extended it to May 17th, which gives the hackers and scammers an even larger window to attempt to take advantage of people.
All of the usual safety precautions apply here. Remember that the IRS will never ask you for any personal information via email, and if you suspect that there’s a problem with your account or with the taxes, you may have already filed. The best approach is to manually type in the IRS web address rather than clicking on any link embedded in an email. Even better, pick up the phone and speak with someone at the IRS directly.