Welcome to Tax Day 2019, or as we like to say here, the start of the Phishing season. What is phishing? Phishing is attempt by an individual to gather sensitive information from you, usually for their own personal gain. At this time of the year, the two most common ways they do this is through either email or a phone call. They especially love this time as hackers know that in the US, everyone is afraid of the IRS.
The first thing to remember is that the IRS will NEVER call you or have the local sheriff call you. They will send you letters telling you that you owe. If someone does call threatening you, write down the number and hang up, even if the caller ID says it is the IRS or the FBI or a myriad of other governmental agencies. They will use pressure tactics saying stuff like “we are on the way to arrest you and the only way to stop them is to give your credit card over the phone”. If you are ever unsure, you can call your local IRS office and speak to someone (of course, during this time of the year make sure you use the bathroom, make a sandwich and prepare to wait).
Phishing emails are more common. The most common ones we are seeing right now are from Amazon or FedEx or any other shipping company. Something along the lines of “your package has been delayed, click here for details”. How do you know it is not real? There are many ways. Check the email address of the sender…does is end in amazon.com? Now remember, this is not the display name but the actual email address. It is very easy for anyone to say their name is Amazon but faxing the original email address is much harder. As an example, I received one yesterday that said is was from Amazon but the email address came from Amazon1080@gmail.com. I would think that by now Amazon has gotten big enough not to have to use a Gmail address.
Something else to look at it is the link they are sending you to. Many of these emails will have buttons on them that say things like “Click Here”. If you hold you mouse over these buttons for a moment in just about any of the major email readers, the URL you are being sent to will popup. If you are expect Amazon again and they send you to a link at jayscutehamsters.ru, then you probably shouldn’t click on it. The simplest rule of thumb is if you are not 100% sure, do not open any emails and call your support department. No anti-spam program is 100% perfect and as such, please be careful.