Beware Of These Phishy Tax Scams

Spokeo has launched a tool that allows consumers to investigate suspicious email addresses or phone numbers amidst heightened tax scams.

Phishing scams have experienced strong growth and a surge in popularity among cybercriminals over the past few years, with devastating consequences for targeted individuals and organizations. The total number of phishing attacks worldwide increased 65% from 2015 to 2016, according to the APWG Phishing Activity Trends Report, a Q4 2016 analysis by the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG)

The APWG recorded more phishing in 2016 than in any year since it began monitoring in 2004, and says that monthly phishing attacks have increased 5,753% over the past 12 years.

Email phishing and malware scams have increased by as much as 400% this tax season, according to a recent security alert by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

A popular tax scam that has been prevalent on the Internet this tax season begins when a consumer receives an email in their inbox that appears to be from the IRS, often even including the IRS logo. The email includes a fake IRS Web site link that appears to direct consumers to a legitimate Web site where they can update their tax file information, but instead captures personal information such as a social security number. 

The majority of phishing domain names are traditional .com addresses, according to APWG, suggesting that phishing emails and Web site domain names may not initially trigger red flags.

Spokeo’s Email Search connects additional information available online to known email addresses. Users can reverse search email addresses to access the name, location, and social networks associated with that address. The company also provides Phone Number Search, a similar search engine for telephone contact information.

Founded in 2006, Spokeo is an online information aggregator based in Pasadena, California. Spokeo’s database consists of more than 12 billion records, including names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and social media activity. Spokeo positions itself as a company that can help users find and reunite with lost family members and old friends, but it can also serve as an online security tool to verify online communication.

If you do receive a dubious email claiming to be from the IRS, do not click on any links or attachments. Instead, report all unsolicited mail to the IRS.

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