Tags: Small Businesses | Tax | Scams | IRS

CNN Money: Small Businesses Are Prime Targets in Tax Related Scams

By    |   Tuesday, 18 March 2014 02:21 PM

Small business owners beware. Tax season has scammers on the prowl and you could be a prime target.

Large companies do more in the way of protecting themselves against scams, Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Security Response tells CNN Money.

But “cybercriminals know that smaller firms are more lax with their security and probably keep more money in their bank accounts,” he said.

“We're seeing about 100,000 IRS-themed email scams circulating every two weeks in the U.S. “They started in late December and it's going strong now,” Watson tells CNN Money.

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Among them is ransomware, which is “a particularly vicious attack,” Haley explains.

The Cryptolocker virus is usually disguised in an email that allegedly contains important tax-related information from the IRS. If released, the virus will lock your personal files, encrypt them and hold them for ransom, leaving some business owners feeling as if they have no choice but to pay, he says.

Financial trojans are also sent via email. With this scam, recipients may receive a message containing an attachment that is allegedly from a tax preparation service.

The attachment usually looks like a spreadsheet or a document file, says Haley. Open it and you'll unleash malware that allows criminals to steal sensitive information.

Small business owners are also urged to avoid giving their information away through tax-themed phishing scams, which use fraudulent emails and websites to collect personal data and company information.

Victims believe they're submitting the details to a legitimate source such as the IRS. In reality, the information is being collected by crooks, says Haley.

The IRS reminds people that it does not request information via email. The agency also creates an annual list of popular scams known as the “Dirty Dozen” to keep taxpayers up to speed.

This year, in a news release accompanying the list, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen warned taxpayers to be especially mindful of tax scams using the IRS name.

Koskinen says scams can be sophisticated and take many different forms, including telephone calls.

Risks of identity theft and personal information misuse and abuse are more common today than in the past, Mark Steber, Chief Tax Officer of Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, warned in a Huffington Post blog.

He notes the importance of carefully handling tax documents and other sensitive records. Criminals do go as far as dumpster diving, he notes.

Remember, protecting your tax information is just as important as protecting your wallet and perhaps even more so, writes Steber.

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Small business owners beware. Tax season has scammers on the prowl and you could be a prime target.
Small Businesses,Tax,Scams,IRS
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 02:21 PM
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