The IRS is always cautioning tax professionals to be wary about scams attempting to steal identities. The latest one has come in the form of phishing emails. Optima Tax Relief reminds tax professionals how to spot and avoid scams.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is the act of sending emails claiming to be from a certain individual in order to induce receivers to reveal personal information. Some scammers are even using SMS, or text messages, to collect personal information as well. Many tax professionals have been receiving emails from scammers posing as their clients, asking them to open embedded links or attachments that will then infect the tax pro’s computer and steal personal information.
A more common threat lately has been a criminal’s intention to steal passwords for cloud-based systems to store client data. Once they have the client data, they are able to file new tax returns in the client’s name and steal their tax refunds.
How to Spot Phishing
No matter the method of phishing, most will be presented in the same manner. The scam will seem as if it was sent by a trusted source, whether it be a colleague, financial institution, tax software provider, the IRS, or even a client. The message will usually present an urgent message to scare the receiver into opening a link or attachment.
How to Avoid Phishing
The most important thing to do to avoid being scammed is to use preventive measures to secure client data. The IRS has recommended that tax professionals use two-factor or multifactor authentication when using tax preparation software or cloud-based systems that store data. Anti-virus software will also help prevent scams, but tax professionals should ensure that the software is updated regularly.
Finally, encrypting a hard drive and backing up files can help prevent identity theft and other scams. All data on the encrypted hard drive can only be read with the correct key or password.