Are you looking for ways to make your tax season a little less stressful? Though at times, it can certainly seem like tax season is anything but, we think that taking the right precautions now can lead to more clarity and confidence in the months ahead.
Take a look at today's blog for ways to keep your cool (and your security) this tax season and beyond.
Look out for phishing
Phishing--or the use of phony emails to lure you into giving out sensitive information--is a year-round problem--but does it really get that much worse during tax season?
According to the IRS, it does--in fact, last tax season, they estimate that incidents of phishing (as well as reported malware) increased by 400 percent. It's an especially frantic time for business owners and families across the country--which is, unfortunately, a perk for the phisher. With so many forms to fill out and requirements to fulfill, you may not be especially suspicious when an email from the "IRS" finds its way into your inbox, asking for information.
Is there a way to beat this sneaky tactic? Of course there is! For starters, know that the IRS will never begin a conversation with you via email--so it's right to be suspicious if you get an email from someone claiming to be them. As a rule of thumb, always be sure to check and double check the exact email addresses in your inbox if you don't have them saved as a contact, since similar-sounding addresses can be deceiving. Finally, if you have doubts, don't press on any links sent in the email and avoid giving out personal information until you can verify the sender through another channel (if you're not sure if a message is from your bank, for example, call your bank to see if they sent it).
Know the signs of a phony phone call
The same kind of deceit is used in traditional telephone calls, too. Be wary of anyone (the IRS, tax professionals, etc.). who asks for financial or identifying information over the phone--especially since institutions like the IRS have expressly stated that they do not ask for immediate payment over the phone, nor will they report you to law enforcement for failing to pay over the phone. In general, any caller who rushes or demands you to pay over the phone (especially alongside threats like these) should not be trusted.
Finally, don't be a passive participant this tax season. The mantra "if you see something, say something" applies to identify fraud, too! Look out for family and friends who may be especially susceptible to phishing scams this tax season. If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the IRS, you can even report it to the IRS directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You might be able to help keep others from being deceived in the process!
We hope that these tips help you enjoy a tax season that's safe, secure, and well-planned out. Be sure to call Vann Data today for help in answering your security questions, or finding the perfect preparedness plan for your business.