IRS warns of new scheme targeting tax professionals - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

IRS warns of new scheme targeting tax professionals

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The Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday issued a release warning tax professionals of a new phishing email scam that pretends to be from tax software providers and tries to trick recipients into clicking on a bogus link.

The IRS says the email is the latest in a series of attempts by fraudsters to use the IRS or other tax issues as a cover to trick people into giving up sensitive information such as passwords, Social Security numbers or credit card numbers or to make unnecessary payments.

The bogus emails request the recipient to download and install an important software update via a link included in the email. Once the recipient clicks on the embedded link, they are directed to a website prompting them to download a file appearing to be an update of their software package. The file has a naming convention that uses the actual name of the software followed by a .exe extension.

The download then tracks that person's keystrokes, which is a common tactic used by cyber thieves to steal login info, passwords and other sensitive data.

The IRS only knows of a handful of cases so far, but tax professionals are encouraged to be on the lookout for these scams and never click on unexpected links in emails.

The IRS recently launched the Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign to raise awareness among tax professionals about security threats. They also urge tax preparers to take the following steps:

  • Be alert for phishing scams: do not click on links or open attachments contained in e-mails and always utilize a software provider’s main webpage for connecting to them.
  • Run a security “deep scan” to search for viruses and malware;
  • Strengthen passwords for both computer access and software access; make sure your password is a minimum of 8 digits long (more is better) with a mix of numbers, letters and special characters;
  • Educate all staff members about the dangers of phishing scams in the form of emails, texts and calls;
  • Review any software that your employees use to remotely access your network and/or your IT support vendor uses to remotely troubleshoot technical problems and support your systems. Remote access software is a potential target for bad actors to gain entry and take control of a machine. 
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