This year’s tax deadline has been extended, which means phishers and scammers have even more time than normal to trick individuals with tax scams. OIT has tips for UA students, faculty and staff to keep sensitive tax information safe this spring.
Beware of phone and email scams.
Do not be fooled by phone calls or emails that threaten to be the IRS demanding immediate payment. If you owe money to the IRS, you will receive a bill by mail, not a phone call or email.
Additionally, malicious actors may pose as the IRS and send messages with content such as “Where’s My Refund” or “Tax Refund Payment” attempting to lure in victims. These messages often include web links where they will ask the message recipient to submit sensitive information including a Social Security number, date of birth and prior year annual gross income. Be mindful of the red flags of phishing to easily spot phishing emails.
Store documents in a safe place.
You wouldn’t leave a paper copy of your W2 sitting on a public bench. The same rules apply to online storage! Tax documents should be stored on a secure hard drive or personal, encrypted cloud storage account.
Send documents in a secure manner.
Do not email sensitive documents as an attachment. To share files, OIT recommends storing them in a secure cloud storage account, and sharing access to that account with only individuals you trust. OIT also recommends that faculty and staff use a personal email account for tax purposes. The email account should be secured with a strong password and two-factor authentication. Gmail offers Google Two-Step as an easy way to better secure email accounts.
Select a secure accountant.
If you choose to use an accounting service or company to file your taxes for you, ensure they have a record of good cybersecurity practices. By employing a tax accountant, you are trusting them with your most sensitive data. It isn’t out of reason to ask what measures they take to ensure your data is safe.
Tax-related identity theft is the most common type of identity theft. To learn more tips about how to protect your tax information, visit the IRS website, Identity Theft Central.