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Preparing Last Minute Tax Returns? It is Important to be Quick and Careful!

Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Digital Citizens Alliance’s Newest Report Looks at How Hackers Strike Taxpayers

Washington, DC - Millions of Americans rushing to complete their tax returns are vulnerable to hackers. The Digital Citizens Alliance has compiled a new list of tips for those who are still putting the finishing touches on their 2012 returns. The deadline for submitting those returns to the IRS is next Monday, April 15th.

Among the key points in the report:

  • If you get an e-mail from the IRS, it’s fake. The IRS says on its website it "does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information."
  • Spam often has a target audience, but is not usually sent just to that audience. When criminals know exactly whom they are sending fake emails to, that would be spear-phishing - a much more targeted scam effort. However, there is a population who responds immediately for the instant gratification of even a minimal amount of money and the promise of not having to file a detailed return.
  • Pirated tax software is common and can open you up to malware, and online tax preparation services can also be home to scams.
  • Purchasing pirated software of any kind could open buyers up to sanctions from the software manufacturer.
  • Tax software is becoming obsolete, replaced by completely online services, which opens users up to new risks from criminals who can devise get-richquick schemes.
  • Most tax-related identity theft victims do not know about the crime until they try to file their real tax return.

“Tax return documents contain all the information an identity thief needs to become you - all wrapped up in one neat package. Properly storing and disposing of your old tax returns is probably one of the most important things you can do all year,” said Garth Bruen, a Digital Citizens Security Fellow and Internet fraud analyst.

 

 

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