Tax season is just beginning and already the bad guys are trying to scam and trick people into giving access to their computers and private financial data.
I just received an email from my “CPA” telling me that my K-1 tax form is ready for download. I just need to click on the link and get it for my tax return preparation process. It looks very legit but I did not recognize the sender and I do not have a CPA (I do my own taxes). Of course I deleted it. Clicking on the link could have allowed the sender to download a program giving them hidden access to my computer and everything on it. Or they could have high jacked my computer and forced me to pay a “fee” to release it back to me.
The IRS sends out warnings about these scams periodically. Taxpayers have received emails supposedly from the IRS about a tax document or refund that the IRS wants to send them. Do not fall for this trick! The IRS does not send unsolicited emails like these to taxpayers. Many individuals get worried when the receive an IRS email and want to respond quickly and resolve the situation. The bad guys know this and try to take advantage of this.
The next few months there will be an increased amount of email related to taxes that are both legit and a scam. Be very careful and if in doubt delete it. Open only those emails and links that you are expecting and are familiar with. And even then be cautious. Confirm with your tax preparer to ensure that they did indeed send you the email.
Finally, we have all received email from our credit card companies or banks telling of a possible unauthorized charge and asking to click on a link to confirm. Or to update our profile information. Or unlock our account. Do not follow the link; it is most likely a scam. If concerned, then open your internet browser and log on the way you would normally and check it out.
Bottom line: Be very skeptical of emails with links.
By: Reg Baker, CPA PFS
Nationally recognized SMB Advisor and
Wealth Management Specialist based in Honolulu