Odds are that income tax fraud can happen to you or someone you know. Someone can file a tax return in your name, and receive the money you’re owed by the government. In 2016, it was attempted on at least 787,000 people.
With tax season around the corner, fraudsters are out in force preying on unsuspecting victims by using fake phishing emails that could activate malware designed to do harm to you. Large data breaches also are becoming all too common with Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data being made available to cyber criminals.
What can employers due to protect themselves?
1. Activate Two Factor Authentication on all systems that store employee PII data.
Also known as Multifactor Authentication, this preventative measure requires employees to provide something they know (e.g., a username and password) along with a code or prompt displayed on a registered device, like a phone or tablet, something you have in your possession.
Once the TFA is enabled on an account, cyber criminals can no longer access the account if the user’s password is stolen through phishing, malware, or password reuse. With sophisticated phishing attacks large data breacheson the rise, the need for using TFA is paramount.
2. Be alert for other social engineering attacks.
Social engineering takes many forms and isn’t always directed at the individual employee.
More frequently, criminals are posing as business executives and requesting reports or exports of large amounts of PII or financial transactions. Another form involves using stolen PII to convince administrators to reset accounts.
Reinforce to administrators who have access to sensitive data or corporate financial accounts that they must treat requests for data and access with a great deal of skepticism.
3. Encourage employees to file sooner rather than later.
The sooner employees file their tax returns, the more likely it is they will beat a fraudster to a refund.
And if you can’t file “as soon as possible” for risk of underreporting your income, you can still get organized, prepared, ready to execute the return at first chance.
In other words, don’t procrastinate.
4. Employees should stay vigilant.
Suggest that employees keep tabs on their tax records. The IRS will let you view your account information if you provide the necessary details. Doing so will let employees see if a return has been filed, enabling them to take swift action by contacting the IRS.
Stay safe this tax season.
Small steps now can help protect you against profound tax fraud down the line.