While millions of Americans struggle to establish an online account with the IRS, scammers are preying on naive taxpayers with various schemes.
Proofpoint, a cybersecurity firm, has published more information on the primary types of tax season phishing scams that consumers and companies should be aware of this year. While there are a few basic IRS-related phishing patterns, hundreds of variations use email, text messages, and even phone calls as attack vectors.
Cybercriminals attempting to gain a user's identifiable financial information (SSN, W2, unemployment compensation details, and so on) to divert a tax refund to an attacker-controlled account is one of the most popular tax frauds. Fraudsters and con artists try to gain financial information to perform corporate espionage or even sell it on internet hacker forums.
Cybercriminals also try to get a user's account credentials to access their online accounts and steal money or steal identities.
In any of these cases, threat actors are likely to exploit the IRS brand to impersonate a tax authority by stating that a helpful piece of information is required, such as a correction to a form or a process, or attempting to collect payment. They have also identified non-IRS tax frauds, in which cybercriminals market their "tax preparation services."
Proofpoint is a cybersecurity platform that safeguards personnel and data from experienced cybercriminals who steal information through email, social media, and mobile devices.
Proofpoint's email protection is a cloud-based service that lets businesses filter their inbox and outbox easily. This program, unlike malware software, can detect and defend users against both known and undiscovered malware and dangers. It includes imposter emails, which attempt to dupe employees into transferring money or critical company information, and business email compromise (BEC), CEO Fraud. This expanding threat can result in significant losses for a firm.
Proofpoint offers a variety of tools to assist businesses in strengthening their security, including email protection. Among the services available are advanced threat prevention security awareness training, cloud security, archiving and compliance, data protection, digital risk protection, and premium security services.
When it comes to dangerous content used in tax season phishing, cybercriminals use the same techniques all year. But the number of potential victims is higher this time of year because the government requires all US citizens to pay their taxes each year.
According to one tax fraud found by Proofpoint, threat actors acting as the IRS claim an additional refund. When a potential victim clicks on the infected email's "Click Here" link, they place malware on their computer.
Cybercriminals also use malicious Word documents that need the user to allow macros. If a user falls for the con and enables macros in the document, one example installs and runs the Ave Maria backdoor. Other tax scams involve cybercriminals sending out tax documents like W-9 forms that install malware on their machines if the recipient permits macros or inserts the password into an encrypted document.
The first thing both individuals and businesses should remember when avoiding tax scams each year is that the IRS will never contact you by email or phone; instead, the government agency prefers to communicate via letter. Officials from the IRS may attempt to contact you by phone after first sending you a letter.
You must be cautious when opening emails from unknown senders, especially those with attachments, as you would while avoiding other internet scams. When utilizing public Wi-Fi, yet, you should avoid checking your banking and other financial apps. And if you must check your balance, be sure to first turn on your VPN.