Technology

How to spot scams that mimic the IRS or charities

cheating is a year-round activitybut tax season brings an uptick in calculated schemes to steal money and Personal Information through fake news and other means. Cybersecurity companies have that too reported an increase in fraud attempts that take advantage of the conflict in Ukraine – a situation about which fears have grown potential cyber attacks on American companies through ransomware and other malicious software. You can protect yourself better if you know what’s out there. Here’s a guide.

the Tax office does not make initial contact with taxpayers via email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal and financial information — including bank account or credit card numbers, passwords, or PIN codes. Messages asking for this information are fraudulent “phishing” attempts to steal money and identities.

When the IRS needs your attention, it begins with a notification by post in most cases through the United States Postal Service.

The IRS will not send any unexpected return inspection messages stimulus payments, collect your taxes or “delete your social security number”. An IRS representative may call or visit when a taxpayer has a past-due bill or other tax-related issues. But even then, written notification is usually sent first, according to the agency.

Fraudulent phone calls and voice messages with fake agency numbers and fake IRS agent identifications are common. Here, too, the agency usually first sends a notification by post. It doesn’t call unexpectedly to discuss tax refunds, threaten arrest by local law enforcement, or demand immediate payment in some form. Tax bills are paid to the US Treasury Department and not directly to “agents” requiring funds in the form of iTunes or Amazon gift cards, prepaid debit cards, electronic cash, or wire transfer.

the Tax Fraud/Consumer Alerts page on the officer irs.gov Website has a long list of current and classic scams. And the site has a guide for Verification of Real IRS Agents and identify legitimate collection agencies.

Opportunistic scammers are quick to take advantage of natural disasters and humanitarian crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Be suspicious of messages from unknown organizations soliciting donations by credit card or cryptocurrency — or claiming to be from refugees or members of the military. Crowdfunding campaigns should be avoided or scrutinized unless you know the organizer.

Most scams are easy to spot. Typo-laden messages, impersonal “official correspondence” from Gmail and Yahoo accounts, and voicemail messages left in robotic computer language are instant red flags. Fake Bills and fake PayPal notifications remain popular phishing lures.

You can avoid many phishing lures by optimizing your email program’s junk filters and Block unwanted calls and text sender. Have unknown callers sent to voicemail. Wirecutter, a website owned by The Times, has a guide to combating spam calls.

Make sure your browser is set to Block pop-up messages and warn against malicious sites. Do not install apps from unknown developers and keep antivirus software enabled on your computer. If spam comes through, don’t call the number or open the attachment – it’s probably malware. If you have a concern about an account, open your browser and go to the company’s website, avoid links in messages.

Credit…Apple

the Consumer Financial Protection Agency‘s site has detailed page about scams and scams is currently going around. And even if you have If you’ve been practicing secure computing for years, chances are you have a friend or relative who isn’t as tech-savvy — who could use your help.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/30/technology/personaltech/scams-phishing-spring.html How to spot scams that mimic the IRS or charities

Mike Fahey

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