Every year around tax time, reports of email phishing scams increase, though no season is immune to its own set of scams. Phishing is the act of using computers to fraudulently acquire sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and user names & passwords. To accomplish this, thieves will send electronic communications designed to look like they are coming from a trustworthy entity. One example of a recent phishing scam appears to come from the IRS:
IRS or Treasury Department Tax Scams – These e-mail scams will typically warn you of a problem with an individual’s tax return, which can only be resolved after confidential information has been sent to the scammers. These scams may also be threatening and use scare tactics such as the threat of criminal prosecution if the information is not sent. Such scams may also include virus attachments within the e-mail.
You can read more about tax-related scams on our blog: Protect Yourself from Tax-Relates Identify Theft This Tax Season.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a list of recent scams on their website at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts and allows you to sign up to receive email alerts about the latest scams.
Listed below are a few recommendations you can follow to help protect yourself from phishing scams both at work and at home.
- Never reply to a phishing e-mail.
- Delete any suspected spam or phish from your mailbox.
- Remember, legitimate organizations and government agencies will never ask you to provide confidential information via e-mail.
- Do not open e-mails from unknown senders.
- Do not click on attachments or hyperlinks within e-mail from unknown senders.
- Be wary of e-mail promising gifts or money in exchange for participating in surveys or by providing confidential information.
- Investigate all charities or donation requests thoroughly before sending any money.
For more information on how to protect yourself from phishing, identity theft and other scams, you may also visit the FTC’s webpage on phishing: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0003-phishing
Be aware that scams can also come from places other than the internet, such as phone calls or home visits from people impersonating professionals from the government or technology companies or even from friends and family members. Some examples include
- Phone calls from companies claiming to be Microsoft or another well-known computer company telling you they have discovered your computer is performing poorly, has a virus, etc., and offering to login remotely to fix the problem. Sometimes they will offer this service for a fee and other times they will offer it complimentary. Their goal is generally to capture your information once they have access to your computer.
- Home visits from people who follow storms and claim to be service professionals (roofers, tree services) offering to give you bids for repair. They may request up-front payment then never perform the service.
- Phone calls from someone impersonating your grandchildren or other young relatives requesting money because of some emergency (emergency on Spring Break, summer vacation, or needing funds in the Fall while away at college).
You can participate in helping to stop these kinds of scams by sharing this information with your family, friends, and co-workers.
As always, we are committed to protecting our clients’ identity and financial future. Please contact our office at 913.814.3800 if you have any questions about the information in this letter, or any other financial matters.
Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.
The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.
Originally published on March 30, 2017 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.