Nevada - January 31, 2018
The end of January marks the start of Tax Season in the US, and this year more than ever, cyber criminals are busily making plans of what to do with all the money they’re going to steal. Every year around this time, there’s a sharp increase in tax and audit scams, and in false tax return filings. With last summer’s Equifax hack, hundreds of millions of people’s information was stolen – exactly the kind of information used for these scams.
By the way, if you haven’t checked to see if you were impacted in that breach, head on over to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ to check.
So, how do we protect ourselves from the scams that are out there? Well, you can start by keeping a few things in mind:
• File Early. If you’ve already filed your taxes, the thieves can’t. I’ll admit, in the past I’ve been one of the put-it-off-until-April-14 types, but I’m already pulling my information together this year.
• Understand How the IRS Works. The IRS has done a lot of modernization in the last few years, but in one area they’re still firmly in the 19th century: communicating with taxpayers about their tax problems. They won’t send you an email, or even call you on the phone. Instead, they’ll send an honest to goodness, printed on paper letter, and they’ll send it registered with a return receipt if it’s important. If you get a call from an “IRS agent” saying a warrant has been issued for back taxes, but they’ll hold off if you make a good faith payment over the phone, just hang up.
• Report Any Scam Attempts. If you do get a call or email like that, the IRS wants to hear from you. You can report the contact online to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml.
The Federal Trade Commission has declared this week Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, and are hosting a number of online webinars designed to help consumers educate and protect themselves. The scammers really hate educated, informed and prepared consumers. You can learn more about this at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0029-tax-identity-theft-awareness-week.
Stay safe out there.
Bob Dehnhardt | Chief Information Security Officer
State of Nevada | Department of Administration | Enterprise IT Services
100 N. Stewart St., Suite 100 | Carson City, NV 89701-4285
T: (775) 684-7322 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org