Cybercriminals often capitalise on the tax season to launch a plethora of attacks and that is not surprising. The most common tax-related threats are phishing attacks that leave users at risk of information theft or, worse, identity and financial theft, along with system infections.
While tax-related scams are no longer new, they remain prevalent, targeting home and enterprise users alike. Most of these scams start from spam supposedly from legitimate sources. These email messages threaten users with bogus warnings of underreporting their incomes, trick them into thinking they are getting tax refunds, or ask them to provide additional information due to supposed process changes, all to get them to give out their personal details.
Knowing the latest security news goes a long way. Lack of awareness of scams leads to the success of tax-related attacks. Because taxes often involve huge sums of money, it is only natural for cybercriminals to come up with all kinds of scams to trick users into parting with their cash.
The fact that taxes are usually filed online in most countries allows cybercriminals to instigate malicious tax-related scams. They use proven social engineering techniques to lure unwitting users into their specially crafted traps.
Financial gain is the primary motive behind tax-related attacks. Cybercriminals steal user information like banking credentials, user names, passwords, and social security numbers and sell these underground. They also use these for other malicious activities.
Users should always be wary of tax-related scams. They should be careful of downloading files attached to or clicking links embedded in email messages claiming to come from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) come tax season. They should keep in mind that institutions like the ATO will never send official correspondence via email. They should also only obtain tax forms from their country’s respective tax authority. Finally, they should always be wary of unbelievable offers like help in computing their taxes. If an offer seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
Tax-related scams often use the following tactics to prey on users:
- Threatening them with bogus warnings of underreporting their incomes
- Tricking them into thinking they were getting tax refunds
- Asking them to provide additional information due to supposed process changes