Taxpayers Beware!

In Accounting & Finances, Business, Taxes on June 30, 2016 by Sufen Wang

Robots and Agent Impersonators Are On the Loose

If it looks like a taxpayer, talks like a taxpayer, and has a social security number like a taxpayer, then it’s probably a robot trying to hack the IRS’s E-file PIN system. Yup, the newest threat out there has binary for a brain…though of course, there’s a real human criminal huddled over their computer somewhere just waiting to get their hands on the info of honest Americans.

binary-code-1-1241810-1279x1809Here’s what went down. In January, an automated bot broke into the IRS’s Electronic Filing PIN system. The robot already had about 464,000 SSNs stolen from somewhere else. Using those numbers, it started poking around for the corresponding E-Filing PINs that are used to authenticate a taxpayer when they file their return online. Oh and it got more than a few of them – 101,000 in fact.

1333293049-2400pxAt least that’s the initial estimate the IRS is giving out, so chances are even more taxpayers were affected. While the malware was able to pocket the E-Filing PINS, and the hackers still have the stolen SSNs, no other personal data was obtained. That raises the question, do robots even have pockets? Whatever the answer, the IRS has flagged the affected accounts so that no tax-related funny business happens.

no-phone-call-2400pxIf it sounds like an IRS agent, talks like an IRS agent, and puts you on hold like an IRS agent, then it’s probably an IRS agent impersonator trying to swindle you into handing over money. Yup, not only do taxpayers have to watch out for evil robots, they have to listen up because there’s also been a deluge of tax phone scams recently.

These criminals pretend to be Internal Revenue Service staff on the phone and aggressively ask for immediate payment or credit/debit card info. These scare tactics work more often than you’d think, which is why the word needs to be spread to every taxpayer: the real IRS won’t threaten you and it will always mail a bill before it calls.

Ensuring that hackers and impersonators don’t win is going to take a two-fold defense: the IRS needs to continue to bolster its cyber security efforts as E-Filing becomes more and more popular, and taxpayers have to stay on their toes at all times when it comes to protecting their personal info.

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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