Don’t Get Caught In a Phish Net

Data thieves don’t take a break.  EVER.  They are always working.  One might say they are workaholics. 
 
The most common way for cybercriminals to steal money, bank account information, passwords, credit cards and Social Security numbers is to simply ask for them. Every day, people fall victim to phishing scams or phone scams that cost them their time and their cash.

Here are a few steps taxpayers can take to protect against phishing and other email scams. When reading emails, people should:

  • Be vigilant and skeptical. Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. Even if the email is from a known source, the recipient should approach with caution. Cybercrooks are good at acting like trusted businesses, friends and family. This even includes the IRS.
  • Double check the email address. Thieves may have compromised a friend’s email address. They might also be spoofing the address with a slight change in text. For example, using narne@example.com  instead of name@example.com.  Merely changing the “m” to an “r” and “n” can trick people. Look closely.
  • Remember that the IRS doesn’t initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email to ask for personal or financial information. This includes asking for information via text messages and social media channels. The IRS does not call taxpayers with aggressive threats of lawsuits or arrests.
  • Not click on hyperlinks in suspicious emails. When in doubt, users should not use hyperlinks and go directly to the source’s main web page. They should also remember that no legitimate business or organization will ask for sensitive financial information by email.
  • Use security software to protect against malware and viruses found in phishing emails. Some security software can help identity suspicious websites that are used by cybercriminals.
  • Use strong passwords to protect online accounts. Experts recommend the use of a passphrase, instead of a password, use a minimum of 10 digits, including letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Use multi-factor authentication when offered. Two-factor authentication means that in addition to entering a username and password, the user must enter a security code. This code is usually sent as a text to the user’s mobile phone. Even if a thief manages to steal usernames and passwords, it’s unlikely the crook would also have a victim’s phone.
  • Report phishing scams. Taxpayers can forward suspicious emails to phishing@irs.gov.
Share

Tags:

Kay Sowa

About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner® as well as a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Top