Tax season is coming and scammers soon will be sending fraudulent e-mail messages that look like legitimate tax communications. Don’t become another victim. The IRS estimates that identity thieves have already stolen more than $11 billion through tax fraud since 2012. Additionally, in 2016 alone, the IRS confirmed it discovered 787,000 identity theft tax returns totaling more than 4 billion dollars and in 2017 a record high of 16.7 million victims of identity theft were defrauded of $16.8 Billion dollars. Likewise, it is not uncommon for scammers to also attempt to divert direct-deposit paychecks into fraudulent accounts.
Be on alert for the following:
- Any message asking for W-2, banking or other financial information.
- Authentic looking emails impersonating UC communications about accessing your W-2 or your bank account.
- Messages that look like they are from executive management requesting copies of employee W-2s for review purposes. See the IRS alert from last year about this scam.
- Messages that encourage you to click on links, ask for passwords, etc. Please note the IRS will NEVER initiate contact via email or social media.
- Unexpected phone calls about such messages, or asking you to install software or alter banking information.
- To access your W-2 statement, go directly to UC’s At Your Service Online (AYSO) or UCPath website (whichever your location uses) instead of clicking on a link in an email.
- Likewise, to access your financial accounts, always type in the hyperlink for your bank. Never click on a link in an email or text message.
- Use known contact information to verify any request for W-2, banking information or other financial information, even if it looks like it’s from someone you know. For example, call them first.
- Do not reply to emails asking for your password or SSN.
- Familiarize yourself with the IRS’ current list of tax scams so you recognize them.
But don’t stop there!
The IRS provides information on their “Dirty Dozen” worst tax scams , additionally check out the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft and here are eight important cybersecurity habits to help protect your information, your family and your work. They’ll also reduce your risk of getting scammed!