Phishing Season is Here
As if coming to terms with our annual obligations to Uncle Sam isn’t stressful enough, tax time is also prime “phishing” season for scammers and identity thieves. Phishing is an attempt to fool someone into revealing sensitive personal or corporate information by “masquerading as a trustworthy entity,” according to Wikipedia. And as Michelle Singletary reported in the Washington Post last week (‘Tis the Season: How to spot a tax scam), phone fraud is one of the fraudsters most favored tactic:
These calls can be frightening, which is why people fall for them. In its annual list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams, the IRS said threatening and aggressive phone calls by someone impersonating an IRS agent remain in the top spot. Callers often tell people that they will be arrested, deported or subject to other legal actions if they don’t send the money immediately.
Dave has himself received a number of these fraudulent voicemails recently on his home phone and we’ve shared it here for your general edification and amusement: Click to Play the Tax Scam Voicemail.
Singletary, meanwhile, goes on to give some good advice for anyone who receives a similar call:
I’ve instituted a rule to not believe any unsolicited communications from strangers. Caller ID can be manipulated to appear legit. So when I get a call, I tell the person that I’ll independently find a number for the business or agency and call right back. Almost every time, the person hangs up on me. In the few other cases, he or she tries to give me a number. But no, I don’t fall for that. I repeat that I’ll look for the number myself.
The important thing to remember is that, however scary the IRS may seem, they do not make threatening phone calls and do not demand your personal or financial information over the phone.
As always, you should also be cautious about clicking on links in emails purporting to come from the IRS and should never reply with personal or financial information.