Tag Archives: Cyber Attacks

IRS Cautions of New W-2 Phishing Scam

Tax season is upon, which means time for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to release its “Dirty Dozen” scam list for 2017. This annual list features numerous schemes taxpayers may encounter throughout the year, but mostly occur during tax season.

It is no surprise that phishing scams are at the top of the list. Earlier this month, the IRS warned about a very refined and evolving W-2 scam that is targeting school districts, corporations, hospitals, nonprofits and regular taxpayers. According to the IRS, this particular phishing scam is not an IRS impersonation, but instead scammers are sending an email to a company’s payroll department as a company executive. The email requests a list of employees and their W-2 information, which gives the scammer access to the employees’ personal and tax information.

IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, commented, “this is one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time. It can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns. We need everyone’s help to turn the tide against this scheme.’’

According to the IRS website, the list also includes:

  • Phishing: Fake emails or websites that attempt to steal personal information.
  • Phone Scams: Calls from criminals pretending to be IRS agents.
  • Identity Theft: Criminals file fraudulent returns using a stolen Social Security number.
  • Return Preparer Fraud: Be aware of dishonest return preparers.
  • Fake Charities: Be aware of criminal groups acting as charitable organizations to receive donations from innocent contributors.
  • Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers should be wary of anyone promising inflated refunds.
  • Excessive Claims for Business Credits: Avoid claiming the fuel tax credit, a tax benefit usually unobtainable to most taxpayers.
  • Falsely Filling Deductions on Returns: Avoid the temptation to falsely raise deductions or expenses on their returns to pay less than what they owe or possibly receive greater refunds.
  • Falsifying Income to Claim Credits: Don’t let scammers talk you into inventing income to invalidly qualify for tax credits, like Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Abusive Tax Shelters: Don’t use abusive tax structures to dodge paying taxes.
  • Frivolous Tax Arguments: Don’t use frivolous tax disputes to avoid paying taxes.
  • Offshore Tax Avoidance: Money and income in offshore accounts is becoming more and more heavily enforced.

Koskinen advises people to avoid opening emails or clicking on websites stating to be from the IRS. He goes on to remind that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. In addition to Koskinen’s advice, cybersecurity expert, Vinny Troia, CEO of NightLion Security adds, “cyber criminals are getting smarter. Make sure you’re using strong, tricky passwords to protect your personal information and networks. All sensitive information should be backed up with two-step authentication, which helps prevent cyber criminals from hacking into a system. Be completely sure your network has no vulnerabilities these hackers can exploit; my team offers 24/7 emergency service to companies who have been exploited.”

Click here to view the full “Dirty Dozen” list.

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New Cyber Security plan offered by White House

The White House has just created a whole new cyber security plan that aims to strengthen computer networks against cyber attacks. The plan believes to cost about $19 billion, which is a 35% increase in the cyber security budget. The money would be used in the fiscal year that starts October 1st until September 30, 2017, according to an article from Wall Street Journal. Hackers have a huge advantage over us and we experience cyber attacks almost every week.

The plan would include renovating outdated computer systems because it is easier for hackers to get in with old equipment. Also the plan includes recruiting and training people for federal jobs that center on cyber security. With this plan the White House expects to reduce cyber attacks and increase government response rates.

Click here to read more on the article.

Cyber Defenses are essential in stopping attacks

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made it clear that prevention is their main goal in their cyber security enforcement agenda this year, according to an article on the Financial Times. Recently RT Jones, a small regional investment agency experienced a cyber attack by China and had 100,000 of their clients’ information stolen. This was upsetting to the SEC because they had just openly stated that investment advisers and broker-dealers must get their cyber defenses in order to prevent hackers.

The SEC had established a list of grievances against RT Jones about the failure to implement cyber defenses. It has been a long time coming for the SEC to finally crack down on companies. The SEC is certain that preventative measures are the best way to decrease the alarming amount of cyber attacks on the financial service industry. Now if a company experiences a cyber attack, they may face a dilemma with the SEC as well.

Read more on the article here.