The bottom line is that your personal information, primarily your financial information, has tangible dollar value to a cyber attacker.
We usually think about credit card fraud or maybe bank account fraud as the results of these kinds of data breaches. But in this post and the next I'd like to talk about two other scenarios that have happened, are happening... and you need to be aware.
It's that wonderful time of year again in the US. Crisp weather, snow (most places), the days are starting to get a bit longer... and it's the beginning of tax filing season.
Imagine you are doing your civic duty, filling out and filing your tax return. You send it in to the IRS, only to find out that "you" already filed your return and "you' have already received your rather sizable refund - surprise!
Unfortunately, this has happened. And, as we've discussed in the past, these attackers are smart. This is a business. They need to be able to maximize profits because there is a limited timeframe in which to commit the crime. So they need to attack a sub-population who:
- makes good money;
- might have many deductions;
- might have complex returns, and;
- for whom a large refund might not raise red flags.
How about... Doctors!
And, just as I finishing writing this article, we have new news out about tax fraud this year! Reports say this is connected with Turbo Tax software, but it is more likely that scammers got people's info through other means and filed the fraudulent returns. Maybe Turbo Tax is just the scammers software of choice! :-)
As always, we want to talk about what you can do.
In addition to the steps outlined in these previous blog posts, here is the IRS Guide on Identity Theft. The IRS guide and my previous tips talk about not only what you should do if you are a victim, but tips to avoid the problem in the first place including:
- protecting your personal information, primarily your social security number
- don't click on links sent to you via email or in social media - type the link in yourself or do a search
- use link rating applications like Web Of Trust (WOT)
- don't give our your personal information via web, email, phone unless you can positively identify the person on the other end
- review your bills, credit record and other information that might provide early warning of a problem.
Have you been the victim of tax-related ID Fraud? Do you have any additional tips to share?
Of course, this issue is not just about doctors! Next time we'll talk about something perhaps even closer to your wallet... payroll fraud and misuse.