As if tax season wasn’t stressful enough, now we have to worry about hackers, too. Tax time isn’t just busy for accountants — the bad guys know they can make a few extra dollars, too.
The Internet has made preparing and filing taxes much easier. In fact, the IRS even recommends filing your taxes via eFile, the electronic method for submitting your return. Easy! But great opportunity also brings great responsibility. We have to be on the lookout for scams. Let’s take a look at some of the things to keep in mind from now until April 15 (and beyond).
Don’t Threaten Me
While the IRS may be seen as bullies, they aren’t nearly as bad as the scammers. Fraud artists (to put it politely) will use scare tactics to get you to hand over information. They’ll tell you all sorts of things, including mentioning prison, to pry personal details from you. Take everything with a grain of salt. If you are minding your manners, the IRS won’t come threatening. And if they do, just be calm and double check everything —this is not time for rash decisions.
Too Good to be True
Scammers will also prey on your hope. They’ll tell you that you’re due for a big return, and that you just need to send over a few pieces of information. I don’t know much about the IRS, but I’m pretty sure they won’t go advertising returns without being solicited. Beware the false promise of money. Do your homework and check in with the real IRS to be sure.
The IRS is Old School
Even though they have implemented programs like eFile, the IRS still handles its communications the old way — with a letter. You won’t ever find an e-mail from the real IRS, for both security and privacy reasons. If you do receive an e-mail from the “IRS,” mark it as SPAM and delete. Don’t be tricked into clicking any links in their supposed e-mails.
Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You
Don’t wait for the IRS to call you and confirm any correspondence. If you have a question about the legitimacy of any message from the IRS, give them a call. As long as you are putting effort forth, they won’t be upset that you didn’t immediately respond to a letter. Cover your bases in an expeditious manner — but make sure to cover all your bases.
If you have any questions about Internet scams or need to update your computer’s security features, give the Computer Guys USA a call at (928) 468-0000. Tax time doesn’t have to be stressful. Take these precautions and you’ll be just fine.
That will leave you with plenty of time to watch a baseball game or hit the golf course. Happy spring, everyone.
Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC and CEO of “The Computer Guys USA, Inc” with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.