Email Security Blog

Tax Time Identity Theft: 8 Ways to Know If You’re a Victim

Have you opened a new business? Did you order tax transcripts to get approval on a big new loan?

Well, the IRS thinks you did.

Tax time can be stressful for everyone, but when you’ve been a victim of tax time identity theft, your troubles multiply tenfold.

This year, the IRS is warning the public of new tax time cyber threats that are on the rise. More often than not, it will begin with a phishing threat and end with the theft of your identity. “It is tax season and this is when a certain kind of phishing scam rears its ugly head,” says INKY CEO, Dave Baggett. “The attackers rely on the fact that most people are not micro-scrutinizing every email they see and they only need a small percentage to fall for their scam, so it works for them.”1

The fact is, more than 90% of identity theft and data breach incidents begin with a phishing email.2 During tax season the sender might be posing as your tax software provider, bank, or maybe even the IRS. They’ll tell an urgent story – warning you that something is wrong and that your quick attention is required. That’s when the credential harvesting kicks in.

Credential harvesting is largely considered the foundation of email phishing. In short, without the right email protection software in place, the fraudsters’ phishing emails will arrive - asking you to download a file or log into a website. In the first scenario, the file you download will contain malware (short for malicious software). Malware has the ability to gain unauthorized access to your systems or those belonging to your company if you’re connected. In the second scenario, the phishing email will take you to a website, and you can bet your precious refund dollars that it’s fraudulent. In fact, according to a Google Transparency Report, an average of 46,000 new phishing websites are detected every week!3 Still, human error causes us to make quick decisions and if the email and website are convincing enough, the hacker will have captured your log-in or banking credentials in just seconds. From there, they can commit all sorts of taxing tax-day crimes.

What to Look For to Protect Yourself Against Tax Scams

The right email security software will identify, catch, and even explain each phishing email it detects. However, here is the IRS’s list of eight tax-time identity theft scams you should be aware of:4

  1. You get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
  2. You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.
  3. You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
  4. You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
  5. You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
  6. You get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
  7. IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
  8. You’ve been assigned an Employer Identification Number but you did not request an EIN.

Phishing Tax Relief

To truly have a handle on phishing threats, you need a third party’s assistance. INKY can protect you from becoming a victim of credential harvesting, malware, and similar phishing threats. INKY's patented technology sanitizes and rewrites all emails, detects and blocks brand impersonation attempts using computer vision and machine learning models. In the case of sender impersonation, INKY detects them using social profiling and stylometry algorithms. The INKY Email Assistant then places a user-friendly banner directly into the email that warns, educates, and guides the user’s actions.

Cost-effective and powerful, INKY can be implemented quickly, regardless of whether your employees work at the office or remotely. INKY scans and protects inbound, internal, and outbound emails so you’re protected from all sides.

See what INKY can do for your company — at tax time and all year long. Schedule a free demonstration today.

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INKY is an award-winning, cloud-based email security solution developed to proactively eliminate phishing emails and malware while simultaneously providing real-time assistance to employees handling suspicious emails so they can make safer decisions. INKY’s patented technology incorporates sophisticated computer vision, machine learning models, social profiling, and stylometry algorithms to effectively sanitize emails, rewrite malicious links, detect and block security threats, mitigate sender impersonation, and more. Cost-effective and powerful, the INKY platform was developed for mobile-first IT organizations and works seamlessly on any device, operating system, and mail client. Learn more about INKY™ or request an online demonstration today.

1Source: E002

2Source: Video