It is summertime! That, of course, means getting outside and doing the outdoor activities we love – like fishing. Except for this summer, the criminal kind of fishing – “phishing” scams – are on the rise, particularly because scammers are trying to use the pandemic to their advantage.
Accordingly, the IRS just came out with an alert to help taxpayers, and specifically, tax professionals, keep their sensitive information secure while we all shelter in place and work from home. No question, the fact that many people are working remotely has created an opportunity for fraudsters to really go after people’s data.
In this article, we are going to discuss what it is about the pandemic that makes phishing so attractive to scammers, what some common phishing scams today look like, and what you can do to protect yourself and your business.
If, after reading this article, you would like to have additional information, we invite you to call the tax attorney in Florida, Mary E. King, P.L. The Law Office of Mary E. King, P.L. can make sure that your tax issues are resolved efficiently and at the lowest cost to you. Please fill out our online contact form, or call us at 941-906-7585 today.
Why Does the Pandemic Bring Out the Fraudsters?
Sadly, a country in crisis is the thing criminals love the most, and the pandemic is the perfect crisis for a scammer.
The pandemic has caused such a disruption in our lives and has changed our normal activities to such a degree, that the public at large is generally more susceptible to being misled by a scammer because there are a lot of unknowns out there. The fact that things are unsettled, and that we are working from home using remote computer connections in numbers never before seen, has made us a bit more vulnerable to scams.
More to the point, because most of us are working virtually now, we are on our personal computers much more than we were just a few months ago. That means that if we get duped by a phishing scam, the computer involved will more likely have your personal information on it.
Finally, the pandemic has resulted in direct, out-of-the-ordinary payments from the government to taxpayers, and has resulted in charities being set up specifically to help those suffering because of the pandemic. Those out-of-the-ordinary circumstances mean that scammers will do their best to pose as government officials or charities related to the pandemic.
What Are Some of the Latest Phishing Tricks to What Out For?
The following is a list of some of the latest phishing scams identified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in connection with its Security Summit, which is a group of representatives from the software industry, tax preparation firms, and federal and state tax administrators.
1. The Trusted Source Email with a Link
A large majority of the phishing scams begin with an identity thief sending you an email and posing as a trusted source, such as a client, your software provider, or even the IRS. What the email will try to do is lure you into clicking on a link in the email.
That is why it is so very important that you always think twice before you click on a link. If an email, that looks like it came from your bank, makes an unsolicited request to click on a link, do not take the bait.
The way that the phishing email generally will try to lure you into clicking on a link is with an urgent message like your account password has expired. The link will be official looking and may take you to a fake site that looks like a trusted source. Then the site will prompt you for your username and password.
2. The Email with an Attachment
The other phishing technique is to have the email (looking like it is from a trusted source) include an attachment. If you click on the attachment, however, you it will trigger malware, which secretly downloads a program on your computer that will track keystrokes and allow thieves to eventually steal your passwords.
3. Scams Exploiting Covid-19 Fears
The scams that tried to take advantage of fears surrounding the pandemic were fraudsters typically presenting themselves as providers of much-needed personal protective equipment like face shields and face masks.
4. Scams Related to Stimulus Checks
Another scam that is particularly prevalent now is a scammer posing as an IRS official. The scammer will call or email a target, claiming that he or she needs the target’s bank account information in order to send the $1,200 stimulus check, also known as the Economic Impact Payments.
How To Protect Yourself and Your Business
As much as possible, try to learn (or obtain some training) on how to spot phishing scams. A good resource for small businesses was published in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Commerce on information security. Also, for your business, it is worthwhile to educate your employees working from home, and all office personnel about the dangers of opening suspicious emails.
Finally, if you do become the unwitting victim of a tax scam, or if you are a tax preparation firm that has suffered a phishing attack, then you should consult with an experienced tax attorney in Florida
Let an Experienced Tax Attorney in Florida Help You Get You
Tax scams can create serious problems for taxpayers and tax preparation firms. If you suffer from a scam, you need to talk to a tax attorney in Florida who can help. Mary E. King has spent her career concentrating on tax law and can help you with tax scams in Florida and elsewhere. Attorney King has a wealth of information about what types of options would make the most sense for you and your business.
That helps explain why she’s received an A+ rating from the Florida Better Business Bureau. If you have a tax-related issue – no matter how small or how large – setting up an initial consultation with Mary E. King, tax attorney of Florida, is the first step you should take towards relief.
The Law Office of Mary King P.L. offers complete IRS problem-solving services including all areas from tax debt settlement to planning the most efficient tax strategy for individuals and businesses. Call us today to schedule an initial consultation. With years of experience as a tax attorney in Florida for many clients, Attorney Mary E. King can make sure that your tax issues are resolved in your favor. Fill out our online contact form, or call us at 941-906-7585. Remember, at the Law Office of Mary E. King, we are focused on solving your tax issues for good.