The April 17 tax filing deadline has arrived, but recent statements by the IRS indicate a growing concern about phishing and other online threats aimed at stealing consumers’ identities. In response, IT security experts at Secure Computing have issued the following tips to protect tax filers both before and after this year’s filing deadline:
* The IRS will never initiate contact through email.
* Treat all email with a high degree of suspicion.
– Be careful opening email from unknown senders.
– Do not download attachments. Attachments could contain malicious code such as keyloggers.
* Be wary of how devious phishers can be. The email lists they use are more targeted and personal. Simply because an email arrives from an organization that you are familiar with and addresses you by name does not make it legitimate.
* Never click on links embedded in email messages.
* Manually enter URLs, rather than clicking, if you receive an email from the organization or website used to electronically file your return.
* If you suspect you’ve received a phishing email, be a responsible Internet citizen and report it immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consumers should exercise caution before and after the filing deadline as tax-time phishing attacks can occur long after the filing deadline has passed. One of the most common scams tricks filers into thinking that they have filed incorrectly and giving up personal information, which can then be used to steal one’s identity.