Cybercriminals are looking for ways to capitalize on tax season, with scams on the rise as businesses and individuals prepare to file returns. This means the simple act of opening an email or answering a call could put you at risk of identity theft or return preparer fraud. Making matters worse is a rise in sophistication as widespread adoption of artificial intelligence and large language models such as ChatGPT make it easier to write grammatically accurate messages that read more official than ever before. AAFCPAs would like to remind clients to remain vigilant, know their risks, and use precaution as we enter tax season.
In years past, the IRS has cautioned taxpayers about mailings related to unclaimed refunds, fake Form W-2 wages, unemployment benefits, natural disasters, and ghost preparers. This year, the IRS also warned about an increase in scams sent by individuals posing as a trusted tax professional or friend to lure taxpayers into sending personal data. It is critical that taxpayers use caution when clicking links or opening attachments, as those could download malware—which is software designed specifically to damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorized access—onto your computer and grant access to personal information and passwords. Once a criminal gains access to your email account, they can assume your role as the owner of that email account and use it to retrieve existing tax data or gather additional information by using your trusted relationships with business and personal contacts.
If you receive a questionable email, confirm the sender’s identity by using an alternate form of communication, such as a direct phone line. To reach your AAFCPAs’ partner, use the contact information in your records as opposed to the phone, text, or email address provided in a suspicious email. We also recommend that clients perform cybersecurity training to ensure all staff know ways to identify fraudulent emails and what to do if they receive one.
If you have questions, please contact Vassilis Kontoglis, Partner, Analytics, Automation & IT Security at 774.512.4069 or email@example.com—or your AAFCPAs Partner.