Top 5 Online Tax Scams

Yes, you don’t want to think of your taxes for 2011 until Tax Day comes along, but you should be wary.  Online scammers are planning already how to steal your identity and tax refund. The 2011 tax season’s scams include new tax credits going for donations to Japan for disaster relief, Websites that are search engine optimized and are filled with malware, dangerous e-mail, and Facebook “likejacking” techniques.

Around 19 million filed their taxes at their house for 2011 taxes.  This is a six percent increase from 2010, according to a report by the IRS.  During this time of year, tax-related online scams abound.  Tax scammers are aware that taxpayers are putting in their personal information online, as well as storing confidential financial documents on the hard drive of the computer.  They are also accessing sites to look for information on tax laws and deductions.

A representative for the security firm Sophos, Jennifer Torode, states that most people procrastinate and file their tax forms at the last minute.  Scammers take advantage of the frantic behavior of these latecomers, and lure their into their deceitful webs.

There are five top scams for this season-make sure to avoid them. First, the Japan Quake scam mimics an actual law from last year to set up a means for taxpayers to donate to the Haiti Fund. Gone Phishing (a bogus IRS website that looks as though it’s a tax preparation service, but is really meant to trick someone into downloading malware) is another one that trips people up. Black Hat SEO (Search Engine Optimization), is a way by which the criminal uses sites such as Google Trends to determine popular search keywords for people researching taxes, to optimize their chances of luring someone in. Likejacking on Facebook, or hiding a button over a like button directs to a link advertising a tax service, but it is actually a scam. Last, but not least, phony e-mail is used in the form of a fake message from the IRS to download a form and then give your social security number.

All of these scams have been successful on occasion, but as long as the public is made aware of them, there is less likely to be a chance that as many people will be tricked into giving personal information or allowing someone to get their documents from their hard drive.


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