Tax Season Warning

As tax season has already started and early filers are working to get things completed, I wanted to send out a quick note because there is a rise in false tax filings by individuals that have stolen personal identifiable information (name, D.O.B., S.S.N, address).  In addition to the fraudulent filings, individuals are increasing their efforts to convince email recipients into providing personal information through the use of fake tax filing emails from providers such as TurboTax, TaxACT, H&R Block, etc…

 Some recommended best practices this tax season include:

  1. Ensure a HTTPS (padlock icon in the address bar) connection exists whenever entering sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, bank account information, social security numbers, employee ID numbers, and other sensitive information. Clicking on the padlock icon will provide additional information to further confirm that the site is secure.  If, while filing taxes online, an individual notices that the online tax preparation service does not use a secure HTTPS connection, the validity of the website and/or service should be questioned.
  2. Avoid clicking links within an email that offer tax services; go directly to the actual website. Online tax preparation services are like any other business in that they’re going to send out mass emails with discounts, coupons, and special offers. Not every email received from a tax preparation service is malicious in nature, but some may be. So, clicking on an embedded hyperlink could redirect a victim to a malicious landing page where malware is then installed.
  3. It is always best practice to conduct research on any company that you plan to do business with. Resources such as the Better Business Bureau and even the IRS portal can provide valuable information about reputable tax preparation vendors.
  4. If you should come across a fake email or you believe that the site you were directed to is not legitimate, it’s best to report these incidents to US-CERT (http://www.us-cert.gov/report?) or to the actual tax service’s customer support number.

Ben Hendricks
Wood County IT Director