"As we've seen in the past, the weeks before April 15th are the most likely for taxpayers to see a rise in tax-related phishing emails," said Leon Hilton, Email Security Expert, SonicWALL. "We predict that more than 100 million IRS related phishing emails will be sent to tax payers in the days leading up to and after the April 15 tax filing deadline."
While the IRS does not send e-mail regarding your refund, you may still get legitimate e-mail on the subject. A myriad legitimate online filing services, online consultants who answer tax-related questions and online tax calculators currently exist. For example, if you file your taxes with an online tax preparation service you are likely to get legitimate email from them and the bank which acts as the transfer agent for the transaction for the IRS. Phishers use this opportunity to prey on taxpayers who are filing their tax refund — asking them for bank card information to deposit the refund and social security number so they can verify a taxpayer's identity. Be wary of these types of inquiries.
To help taxpayers identify tax-related potential phishing schemes, the SonicWALL threat team has outlined several steps to help taxpayers defend against these types of phishing-related security threats:
1. Be aware that the IRS does not send you e-mails which ask for any financial, personal or identity information. Do not respond to these e-mails. Official correspondence with the IRS is done through US Mail. 2. If you use an online preparations service, pay close attention to relevant instructions as e-mail messages you could receive include details such as bank account numbers and when you can expect your refund to be deposited. Always go back to the tax preparation website or call to ensure that the online transaction goes smoothly. Also be sure to print off any related materials to save for later reference if needed. 3. If you use a tax filing program you will most likely receive an e-mail notification when your taxes are filed, letting you know that your tax forms were accepted or possibly rejected. Do not click on any links in the e-mail. Go back to the tax preparation program and check for any notifications. 4. Beware of offers that allow you to get loans on your income tax refund. While some offers are legitimate many others are not and are spam or phishing scams. 5. If you have a question about an email confirmation of your online filing and/or refund information from your software program or online filing service, contact the phone number of the tax service provider. 6. Improve your phishing IQ. SonicWALL has put together the phishing IQ test specifically to test your phishing knowledge. Go to: www.sonicwall.com/phishing/ 7. For more information about identity phishing, e-mail scams and bogus IRS websites, go to http://www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=179820,00.html?portlet=1
For more information on the topic of phishing and other related threats, go to: http://anti-spam.sonicwall.com/
About SonicWALL, Inc. SonicWALL, Inc., the leader in network security, focuses on developing solutions that remove the cost and complexity out of managing a secure network environment. With over one million award-winning appliances shipped through its global network of ten thousand channel partners, SonicWALL provides end-to-end solutions including firewalls, SSL VPN's, e-mail security and continuous data protection that collectively ensure robust, secure network protection. For more information, visit the company web site at http://www.sonicwall.com/.