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Data thieves work year-round to try to gain access to accounts and are particularly busy during tax season. The IRS warns taxpayers that the agency is seeing a large increase in bogus email schemes that seek to steal money or tax data.



Watch the video to learn the latest tips from our Vice President - Information & Cyber Security Jeff Kurek

The most common way for cyber-criminals to steal money, bank account information, passwords, credit cards, and Social Security numbers is through social engineering; basically, they simply ask for them. Every day, people fall victim to phishing scams or phone scams that cost them their time and their cash.

Steps you can take to keep your information safe: 

  • Be vigilant and skeptical when opening email.

    • Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. Even if the email is from a known source, the recipient should approach with caution. Cyber-crooks are good at acting like trusted businesses, friends, and family. This even includes the IRS and others in the tax business.
  • Double check the email address.

    • Thieves may have compromised a friend’s email address. They might also be spoofing the address with a slight change in text. Remember that the bank, IRS, or any other reputable business will never initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email to ask for personal or financial information. This includes asking for information via email, phone calls, text messages, and social media channels. The IRS does not call taxpayers with aggressive threats of lawsuits or arrests.
  • Do not click on hyperlinks in suspicious emails.

    • When in doubt, you should not use hyperlinks. Instead go directly to the source’s main web page. You should also remember that no legitimate business or organization will ask for sensitive financial information by email.
  • Use security software to protect against malware and viruses found in phishing emails.

    • Some security software can help identity suspicious websites that are used by cyber-criminals.
  • Use strong passwords - or better yet, passphrases - to protect online accounts.

    • Experts recommend the use of a passphrase instead of a password. A passphrase takes a phrase rather than a single word to develop the password. Substitute some letters for numbers or symbols, and keep in mind, you can usually use spaces as a part of your passphrase. 
  • Use multi-factor authentication when offered.

    • Two-factor authentication means that in addition to entering a username and password, the user must enter a security code. This code is usually sent as a text to the user’s mobile phone. Even if a thief manages to steal usernames and passwords, it’s unlikely the crook would also have a victim’s phone.
  • Report phishing scams.

    • If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS, Treasury, and/or is tax-related that you believe is suspicious, report to
  • Ensure your tax preparer is using secure methods when handling your information.

    • You can be diligent with your information, but if your tax preparer is not, you will be the one to face the consequences.
  • File your taxes before someone else does it for you!

    • Filing early means you cut down on the amount of time a criminal has to file your taxes - and get your tax return.

With just a few steps, you can keep your information safe from cybercriminals.