Tax Time Is Open Season for Cybersecurity Hijinks — Here’s Why

Personal and sensitive information is like currency in world of hacking. In fact, hackers can quite literally make money off of selling your personal information on the black market, where it is acquired by nefarious individuals for a wide range of purposes, like stealing your identity.

That’s why it makes a lot of sense that cybersecurity becomes an even direr issue when tax time rolls around each year. Both businesses and individuals need to be especially conscious of the telltale signs of a scam so that they don’t unknowingly compromise personal information.

Now that the tax time has been extended, we wanted to make sure you were still thinking about your cybersecurity for your business.

Why tax time?

Filing taxes often includes stacks and stacks of documents that contain personal information. All your W2s or 1099s have all the information that hackers are looking for.

Not only that, but in today’s digital age, these documents are often exchanged online, not to mention the fact that a large number of United States citizens actually file their taxes online. With this information being transferred digitally, it’s important to keep them safe.

What are hackers after?

We’ll get into the usual trickery that hackers employ in a minute, but let’s talk about what they’re after.

We already discussed the sensitive information contained in W2s and other common tax documents. This information is valuable — the National Cybersecurity Alliance even conducted a study that showed tax-time identify theft, where ill-intentioned individuals file fraudulent tax returns with someone else’s information, is the most common type of identify theft.

There are also instances where hackers are after a quick payday. When men and women do their taxes online, they don’t find it suspicious to conduct financial transactions online, either. With the right trick, a hacker can convince someone to send them money.

How they do it

Hackers employ fairly basic phishing scams, but they’re effective. Whether they pose as a high-ranking administrator in a company and convince a local HR department to send W2s or wire them money, or they go after individuals masked as TurboTax, these hackers prey on people.

Unfortunately, many people let their guard down during tax season and don’t really spot the red flags that they might otherwise.

How to spot a cybersecurity attack

It’s very simple — the IRS never communicates with taxpayers over email, where these attacks are most often conducted. Knowing that fact alone, you don’t have to give these convincing e-mails a second thought.

With that in mind, make sure you never click links that are supposedly sent to you by the “IRS” and you can even take it one step further by reporting these dishonest emails and communications with the actual IRS.

Paying taxes is already something that most folks dread. Don’t compound your heartache this season by falling for one of these avoidable scams!

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