Don't Fall in the Phishing Trap This Tax Season

This is also a busy time for targeting businesses for scammers, who look at deceiving businesses with real-looking emails and texts, posing to be from financial institutions or government agencies

By Chester Wisniewski

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One needs to be vigilant about scams, especially during tax season. Tax fraud effects many individuals and organizations, especially as the end of the financial year approaches on June 30. Scammers are salivating at the prospect of making more money by impersonating tax agencies, flooding mail boxes with fraudulent emails that lure individuals into disclosing their financial details. They are banking on a refined set of scams that are aimed at relieving consumers of more than just their tax refunds. This is also a busy time for targeting businesses for scammers, who look at deceiving businesses with real-looking emails and texts, posing to be from financial institutions or government agencies. The outcome of these scams could be financial losses for users, and in some more severe cases may even lead to them losing access to their own accounts. A survey conducted in December 2017 revealed that 62% of companies don't train employees to recognize phishing attempts and 41% of IT Pros report at least daily phishing attacks. This is an alarming sign for one and all to stay vigilant and not take that irresistible bait.

This is an example of what a tax phishing e-mail looks like.

According to us you should consider the following tips to avoid tax scams as we approach the final month of tax season:

  • Stop clicking - Avoid opening surprise emails or clicking on web links claiming to be from Income Tax Department.

  • It's a vicious circle - Don't be fooled by unexpected emails about big refunds, tax bills or requesting personal information. If you are unsure, always contact the tax department by telephone from the number published on their website.

  • Pick proper passwords - Even though strong passwords don't help if you're phished (the crooks get the strong password anyway), they make it much harder for crooks to guess their way in.

  • Use two-factor authentication - That way, even if the crooks phish your password once, they can't keep logging back into your email account.

Chester Wisniewski

Senior Security Advisor at Sophos

Chester Wisniewski is a Senior Security Advisor at Sophos Canada. He provides advice and insight into the latest threats for security and IT professionals with the goal of providing clear guidance on complex topics.

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