IBM Report Details 2017 Tax Scams as IRS Filing Deadline Nears

From “IBM Report Details 2017 Tax Scams as IRS Filing Deadline Nears”
eWeek (04/05/17) Kerner, Sean Michael. Printed by ASIS International.

IBM Security is warning of an increase in tax-related spam email and related fraud scams that aim to exploit tax filers as the April 18 tax filing deadline nears. IBM’s “Cybercrime Riding Tax Season Tides: Trending Spam and Dark Web Findings” report, released on April 5, details how attackers are increasing their efforts ahead of the deadline. IBM X-Force security researchers have tracked a 6,000 percent increase in tax-related spam emails from December 2016 to February 2017. Limor Kessem, executive security advisor at IBM Security, says that this is the first year that IBM is seeing campaigns targeting businesses. “Last year, consumer tax fraud was the most common illicit activity linked with compromised taxpayer information,” she says. “This year, things are getting bigger and bolder.” She went on to say that attackers have several different ways to get taxpayer information, depending on their technical skill levels. “The more technically inclined may breach a company’s infrastructure to steal data directly from their internal servers,” she explains.

Can You Hear Me? Just Say “NO!” (Or Hang Up)

Reports have surfaced about a new scam using a familiar line.  Scammers call, identify themselves by name and company and during the momentary pause that follows, the scammer says, “Can you hear me?”  Of course we all respond, “yes,” and then we hang up or say we’re not interested or let loose a string of expletives.  You get my point.  But no matter how you respond– the damage is done.

The scammer records your yes response and neatly places it in a recording making it sound like you answered yes to ordering various goods.  When you later call to complain, you are met with the sound of your own voice verifying the purchase.  As a matter of fact, these folks are bold enough to threaten to sue you if you don’t pay for your “order.”

There are so many creative scams out there it is important to remember a few simple rules that might eliminate a great deal of inconvenience (or money loss) later:

DO NOT answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.

DO NOT verify your phone number with anyone you didn’t call.

DO NOT give out personal information on any call you did not initiate.

It is not likely we can avoid all scammers– but let’s not make it easy for them!