Criminals on Darknet markets such as Zion Market have found a place to earn millions. Their method is using fake tax emails. Many people have lost a lot of money and sensitive information. This has been as a result of responding to false communication seeming to be from the IRS. Researchers did a study to prove this unfortunate incident. Since December of last year to February of 2017, there has been a 6000% increase in fake emails that involved taxes. To avoid being a victim, IBM X-Force is urging citizens to be on the lookout. They are asking them to file their taxes immediately upon receiving their W-2.
In a report released by IBM X-Force, it is clear that more than one of these scams is going around the internet. Most people are required to submit their taxes when one year closes and another begins. This then is a prime time for criminals to scam taxpayers and sell the emails cheaply on the internet.
For example, the scammers send an email to employees working in the accounts office or human resource department. Posing as a top executive, they request for information on certain employees to be sent to them. The information could be as exclusive as an employee’s W-2 details or social security number. The emails appear real since some even have the official name of the CEO. The unsuspecting accountant or HR officer sends the requested sensitive information.
Fraudsters can also present themselves as companies providing tax software. During the tax filing period, such companies are always busy persuading clients to use their software for tax submission. The scammers pretend to be tax software providers. They send unsuspecting clients a request to either download or install an update. When they open, their emails are hacked and passwords acquired.
They also send false emails directly to taxpayers. The users think that the emails come from IRS. Upon opening the emails, the criminals are able to hack the address password and gain other sensitive information. They can then go ahead and use the information to file false tax returns and acquire refunds.
They will additionally sell the details on Darknet markets like Hansa Market for up to 50 dollars. This helps the criminals to easily file your returns before you do. The government asks taxpayers to be expedient in filing their returns before it’s too late.
The situation is serious. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) confirmed that they lost over five billion in such cases. They released a statement confirming that this has been one of the worst theft cases they have experienced in ages. “Avoid accessing emails with a claim that they come from IRS. The way fraudsters send their requests is not how the IRS does it,” warns the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
There are a bunch of solutions currently in the market that help to curb this theft. Various companies offer to monitor services that taxpayers can be on the lookout for. Since they have suffered various attacks before, companies have sought to ensure they do not fall into such traps. These companies are asking consumers to consider these offers quickly while they last.
Knowing the IRS PIN is also helpful to avoid fraud. The designated six-digit number belongs only to the IRS. A user can then identify it and avoid the fraudsters’ trickery.
Consumers should also be aware that IRS does not send direct emails requesting for sensitive data. They would never ask for a user’s password, social security numbers, email addresses, PIN numbers, or financial information through a phone call or over the internet platforms. A taxpayer should ensure that they are communicating with a real agent.
Passwords should be exclusive when navigating through the internet. A consumer should not use a password for their taxes that they have used to log in elsewhere. Changing an email, or trying to make it stronger, will go a long way to reducing any hacking success by a criminal.
On receiving a tax software link, users should not be in a hurry to click on it. IRS is advising people to visit the official website to be sure they are not opening a fake site.
A simple and quick guarantee to ensure the validity of a request is to have a verbal conversation. The IRS suggests a phone call to the top executive. If you receive an email that poses as coming from the director, do not respond to it immediately. One should instead call and confirm that it is a legitimate request.
The easiest way to keep your accounts safe is filing your taxes as early as you receive your W-2 details from your employer. The more time you take before you file the returns, the greater the opportunity you give a fraudster to take advantage and steal from you.