The week of December 5-9 was National Tax Security Awareness Week.  The IRS, along with payroll processors, tax return preparers and software firms provided tips to alert taxpayers to security threats, including identity theft and tax refund fraud.

The weeklong series of news releases, available in the Client Center, covered topics and suggestions including:

Online Protection

  • Utilize firewalls, virus protections, and file encryption if you have tax information on your computer
  • Set your security software to update automatically, as malware is constantly evolving
  • Look for the “S” on “https” when banking, or dealing with financial information to ensure that the site encrypts your data
  • Create passwords that are at least 8 characters, including a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters
  • Don’t use your name, birth date or common words (like password), as passwords
  • Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts
  • Do not deal with financial information when you are on an unsecure WiFi network (i.e. a network that does not require a password)

Recognize Phishing Scams

  • Do not reply to email, texts or pop ups requesting tax or financial information
  • Do not give information to someone asking for financial or tax information over the phone
  • Scammers may ask for information on your tax status, PINs, or ask you to verify an account
  • Fake links to official-looking sites asking for SSNs to use to file false returns
  • Malware can enable criminals to access files and track your keystrokes

Beware of Tax Scams

  • Scams include impersonating an IRS employee in an attempt to get taxpayers to pay fake tax bills
  • Caller ID scams trick taxpayers into thinking the IRS is calling
  • Automated phone scams urge taxpayers to phone back to settle fake tax bills
  • Some scammers demand payment via iTunes cards, gift cards or wire transfers, which the IRS will never do
  • Scams include fake Affordable Care Act tax bills for 2015 that are mailed to the taxpayer
  • Beware of scams soliciting W-2 information from pretend payroll and HR companies
  • The IRS will never threaten to immediately arrest taxpayers for non-payment
  • The IRS will never demand payment by debit or credit card over the phone

Tax Return Preparers Protecting Clients
The “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” campaign was launched the week of December 5 and will continue to provide security tips to payroll and tax professionals through January.  These tips focus on ways to avoid downloading malware and improving digital defenses.

Complete copies of the news releases and tips can be downloaded from the Client Center.