Cyber Tips Newsletter

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Don't be Frivolous With Your Stimulus

It seems like it’s been much longer than one year ago since we last did our taxes, but somehow, it’s here again; Tax season. Let’s start out by acknowledging that this past year, fiscally, is fundamentally different from other tax years before it. The introduction of Stimulus payments from the government in the past year has added a new dimension to our taxes, and a potential increase of vulnerability to hackers and cyber criminals alike.

This is a period of time where extra vigilance and caution is needed while online and conducting business, especially avoiding any kind of online activity that could jeopardize your identity and finances. There are some important best practices and red flags to keep in mind while navigating through this season, and hopefully you’ll feel a little bit more secure with the knowledge that you haven’t fallen victim to a cyber scheme!

Scams to look out for

  • An email, link, or phone call requesting personal and/or financial information, such as your name, social security number, bank or credit card account numbers, or any security-related information.
    Receipt of a notice that states your IRS account has been accessed or disabled when you haven’t accessed the account.
  • Emails advertising bigger tax refunds, or that have incorrect spelling, grammar, or odd phrasing throughout.
  • Emails that tell a story and entice you to open a link or attachment. Sometimes they will say they’ve noticed suspicious activity, claim there is a problem with your account, or want you to click on a link to make a payment. These links often contain malware that is used to infect your computer and retrieve your personal information.

Stimulus-specific scams

  • Scammers have been mailing out fraudulent checks that appear to be sent from the government, and will request that money be sent back due to an “over-payment.” Always call your bank to verify a check is legitimate, and if you receive a request to return a portion of a check, report this immediately to your bank.
  • Robo-call check scams are commonly reported. The caller will be asking for personal and/or financial information and try to convince you that this information is necessary in order for the check to be deposited. In reality, the government already has your information on file from when you completed your taxes. You will either get your stimulus check and tax refund in the mail or they will be directly deposited to your account.
  • Carefully Select the Sites You Visit: Do not visit a site that doesn’t end in “.gov”. No non-governmental website is distributing stimulus checks.