You may not hear the terms cybersecurity and tax together that often, but tax season is also one of the peak seasons for cybercrime. Hackers and scammers use this stressful season to take advantage of people– and don’t think that you are safe just because you are running a business or because you are in a company.
Accountants are not the only busy professionals during tax seasons. This stressful period brings a lot of opportunities for hackers since it is a great time to unleash online scams and schemes.
Tax-related Cybersecurity Crimes
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), tax-related identity theft occurs when an individual uses someone else’s social security number and other personal details to file and claim an income tax return. They are not only claiming the victim’s tax return– they can also claim any available refunds.
Although technology has changed the world for the better, it still comes with some risks– one of which includes cybercrimes. For instance, who could forget the Equifax cyberattack that put more than 145 million Americans’ names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and other personal information at risk?
Gone are the days when scammers are just using suspicious-looking phishing emails to get to their victims. Cybercriminals improved with time as well. Some cybersecurity hackers do thorough research before launching an attack. For example, if they want to target a company, they do not simply go for it. They will look for members and employees of your company– they will check any weak link in your security. Without proper network security, you won’t even see them coming.
Scams and Schemes Cyber Criminals Attack Taxpayers
Since people have e-file options for filing tax returns, it is easier for hackers to trick them. Even companies are not safe from cybersecurity threats and attacks. The IRS noticed a surge in cybercriminal activities targeting taxpayers. Understanding the common scams and schemes that cybersecurity criminals use to steal data can help you protect one of your company’s critical assets.
IRS Impersonation Phone Scams
This scam is not particularly directed at your network, but it can be used to do so on top of just scamming your company for some cash. Some hackers will claim to be IRS employees while using believable fake names and fake IRS ID numbers. They will either tell you that you owe them money or that you need to update some information.
If they claim that you owe the IRS money– they will tell you that you need to settle it as soon as possible by sending a gift card or wiring the money in the account they specify. If they are actually interested in getting into more of your accounts or if they are after gaining access to your network– they will tell you that you need to update your information instead. They can use this to get both your personal data and corporate information. Beware!
Keep in mind that the IRS will not demand immediate payment through call, they will mail you a bill if you owe them any money.
Phishing, E-mail, and Malware
As mentioned previously, cybercriminals no longer just lazily send phishing emails while they hope that you fall for their schemes. They can now send convincing emails claiming to be from your bank or any service provider you work with. They can even get your information through social media posts or fake websites.
Now, during tax season– people try to outsource an accountant or a tax professional to get them through this stressful period. If you are a start-up company or you simply don’t have an accounting department yet. If you are a person who likes to do things yourself, then chances are high that you will be looking for a website or a tool that can help make things easier for you. And when you’ve run out of hope that you can still do it on your own, you can possibly be vulnerable to phishing emails claiming to be from professionals.
If you click any link or download any file from a suspicious source, then cybersecurity attackers will gain access to sensitive information or even download unwanted software or malware into your corporate network!
Tax Professional Fraud
You are lucky if you can still find an available tax preparer during tax season. Surely there are lots of honest and amazing tax preparers out there– however, there are some people who will take advantage of the low supply of tax professional manpower.
Due to the availability of online options, cybercriminals can easily convince people that they are a legitimate tax preparer who offers online services. From there on, they can easily target your network or even scam you into willingly giving them confidential corporate information.
The Final Takeaway
There are many great cybersecurity tools out there and there is no excuse for your corporate network to be vulnerable. Cybercriminals are improving their tactics and you should too. Understanding the common scams and schemes may help you avoid obvious hacker attacks, but as mentioned previously– cybersecurity hackers use more sophisticated methods nowadays. Do not wait till they get you before you start putting your defenses up.
Want to learn more about how you can protect your company from cybersecurity threats and attacks? You can count on us to help you out.