Beware of Tax Season Phishing Attacks

March 21, 2017

Income tax season is moving toward its April 18th conclusion, but tax fraudsters haven’t slowed their activity. They still want your money and your identity.

This year tax related phishing is on the rise.  Many of the phishing emails look like they come from the IRS.  They include the IRS logo and other official-looking characteristics.  They look real, but what distinguishes them as fraud is that they all ask you to click a link, call a number, or fill out an online form.  You must be vigilant to protect yourself.

Follow these tips to help prevent becoming a victim of identity theft and tax fraud: 

  1. Use strong passwords: longer passwords are better. Include numbers and special characters.
  2. Use a different password for each account you have. This is especially important for your At Your Service Online (AYSO) account.
  3. Keep your computer and antivirus software up-to-date.
  4. Beware of phishing schemes that ask you to click a link or open an attachment. Beware of anything that warns you to take action right away.
  5. Check your credit card and bank statements regularly. Criminals use the holidays to hide fraudulent charges and identity theft.
  6. Be aware of your role in protecting your personal information. Follow the guidelines in the cybersecurity awareness course.

If you become a victim of identity theft, the California Attorney General has published information at https://oag.ca.gov/idtheft.

If you have become a victim of tax fraud, or if you’ve received a tax fraud phishing email, I’d like to know.  Please send me a copy of the message you received at sam.horowitz@ucsb.edu.