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It’s Tax Season, And That’s a Great Thing for Hackers

An Account holding you taxes, with the grim reaper standing beside him, symbolizes a hacker going after your information.

Tax Day 2018 is right around the corner – and this year, landing on the 17th, two days later than the usual deadline thanks to a holiday in Washington D.C.

For many business leaders, tax season is hectic – it’s a time where the constant worry of audits and improperly filled out forms could lead to chaotic business mistakes. But in the digital age, tax season has a whole new looming threat to it – cybercrime.

Yes, cybercriminals will even try and get you out of your tax return – and worse. Here’s all you need to know about staying safe online when it’s cutting it close to your tax deadline.

The Tax Targets

Depending on how much you’ve put into the system, you could be looking at a hefty tax return – and cyber criminals could be looking to get their hands on it. According to the US Treasury, tax return fraud costs the country billions each year, and takes thousands of dollars out of the pockets of unsuspecting Americans.

This year alone, the IRS warned of a complex scam called the Form W-2 Scam, in which hackers phish companies to get their entire payroll’s data, from where they could then file false tax returns for everyone in the organization. These emails often look accurate enough, often coming from a fake account linked to a C-suite employee’s name and ask a human resource professional for a list of employees and their subsequent social security numbers. Once they get their hands on the information, it’s only a matter of time before they have your hard-earned tax return.

In 2016 there were only about 100 victims, according to the IRS – but in 2017 that jumped to 700. 2018 is expected to grow exponentially.

Tax Scams Are Only the Beginning

When it comes to stealing your money, hackers and scammers will always find a way to get creative.

These tax scams go far beyond simply getting your tax return – in some cases, hackers actually deposit incorrect funds into the accounts of their victims, then contact them disguised as IRS agents looking for the return of the incorrect deposit – in short, taking your entire tax return.

But the real threat is the data they can leave with after these phishing scams. Once they have your personal data, or an entry into your company’s network, that information is a gold mine to them. They can wreak havoc on your organization, steal and sell your data, or hold your entire organization’s IT department hostage in a ransomware attack if they so choose.

Losing one year’s tax return could be tough, but losing all your company’s sensitive data? That could be a deal breaker.

Protect Yourself During Tax Season – And the Rest of the Year

Avoiding scams and hackers is critical every day, not just around tax season. And the best first step towards protecting your organization and teaching your employees the necessary best practices to avoid being scammed is by consulting with a local IT firm to help you navigate the complexities of cybersecurity in the 21st century.

At NENs we go above and beyond a typical IT provider – as your local cybersecurity experts, we take pride in protecting your organization from the hackers seeking your sensitive data. Give us a call today to learn about how we can help you train and protect your workforce during tax season – and every other time of the year.

 

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