IRS issues scam warning ahead of tax season, offers 10 safety tips

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (WBAY) – Over the past year, there has been an increase in scams, identity theft, ransomware and unemployed identity theft, so cybercriminals have come to the fore. work. Now, consumer experts are waiting for tax season to see what scammers are targeting and aiming to make safer for people.

Action 2 News discussed these items with Christopher Miller, the IRS spokesperson for Wisconsin, in the wake of National Tax Safety Week.

“First of all, we still expect to see an increase in scams around the holiday season, but we expect it to be worse this year as we know scammers are using new ways – new lures. , new buzzwords, new ways to attract new victims, “Miller said.” The IRS Security Summit, which is a partnership between software vendors and state agencies, has been quite successful in tackling tax identity theft, but that means crooks are looking for new ways to lure victims. They’re using new methods like messaging and buzzwords like “COVID” and “stimulus.” In fact , in Wisconsin alone this year, the Federal Trade Commission is reporting 6,000 cases of identity theft or fraud related to these two terms alone: ​​COVID or stimulus – and which have resulted in an estimated $ 6 million in losses for residents from Wisconsin, and a thousand of those cases are related to online shopping, so we want you to know that this is a significant problem that is not going to go away and people stay alert.

Miller adds that the crooks will likely reach in a fraudulent way, like an email, text, or social media post, and ask you to click on an attachment or link that will take you to a fake website that will attempt to steal your information.

“They may sound legitimate – they often do. It might sound like it’s from the IRS or your bank, but it’s a fake account,” Miller said. “We don’t want people to click on email attachments. or links because that’s not the way the IRS does business. ”

The Security Summit mentioned by Miller offers these 10 steps to help you protect sensitive information:

  1. Remember to use security software for computers, tablets and mobile phones and keep it up to date. Protect the electronic devices of family members, especially teens and young children.
  2. Make sure that the anti-virus software for computers has a function to stop malware and that a firewall is activated to prevent intrusions.
  3. Phishing scams – like impostor emails, calls and texts – are the number 1 way for thieves to steal personal data. Do not open links or attachments on suspicious emails. This year, fraudulent scams related to COVID-19, Economic Impact Payments and other tax law changes are common.
  4. Use strong, unique passwords for online accounts. Use an easily remembered phrase or series of words, or use a password manager.
  5. Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Many email providers and social networking sites offer this feature. This helps prevent thieves from easily hacking into accounts.
  6. Shop at sites where the web address begins with “https” – the “s” is for secure communications over the computer network. Also look for the “padlock” icon in the browser window.
  7. Don’t buy over unsecured public Wi-Fi in places like a shopping mall. Remember that thieves can spy.
  8. At home, secure home Wi-Fi with a password. With more and more homes connected to the web, secure systems are becoming more important, from wireless printers to wireless door locks to wireless thermometers. These can be access points for identity thieves.
  9. Back up files to computers and cell phones. A cloud service or an external hard drive can be used to copy information from computers or phones, which is an important place to retrieve financial or tax data.
  10. Work from home? Consider setting up a virtual private network (VPN) to securely connect to your workplace.

The IRS adds that there are other places to find tax information, such as the YouTube videos found at the bottom of this article.

Additionally, officials say employers can share THIS FORM with employees and clients, while tax professionals can share it with clients.

Copyright 2021 WBAY. All rights reserved.

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