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It’s tax time — and time for tax scams

Annie Baxter Apr 13, 2016
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People fill out forms and wait in line at a downtown Manhattan post office on the final day of tax season. (2010) Mario Tama/Getty Images

It’s tax time — and time for tax scams

Annie Baxter Apr 13, 2016
People fill out forms and wait in line at a downtown Manhattan post office on the final day of tax season. (2010) Mario Tama/Getty Images
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It’s tax season, and along with it comes tax refund fraud. In the latest scam, cyber criminals impersonate a corporate executive, forging an email in his or her name to, say, a human resources colleague, demanding access to employee W-2 forms. 

“Criminals are putting quite a bit of work into making these emails look like they’ve come from within the company,” said Verenda Smith, deputy director of the Federation of Tax Administrators. 

Smith said the information gleaned from these phishing scams, such as total reported taxable income or withholdings, gives phony tax filings aimed at stealing a taxpayer’s refund the veneer of legitimacy.

Weight Watchers and Seagate Technology are among the firms recently hit.

Cybersecurity expert Avivah Litan at Gartner said tax software companies have measures to thwart such scams, like keeping track of the devices used to submit returns.

“They’ll look to see if this device has been used to fill out multiple refund requests,” she said.

But fraudsters can skirt those barriers by filing through phony tax preparers. Litan said the best way to avoid being the victim of a tax refund scam is to file your return before the crooks do.

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