Spear phishers targeting tax professionals

Posted: Updated:
(Source: CNN) (Source: CNN)

The IRS is cautioning tax professionals against spear phishing emails in their new "Don't Take the Bait' campaign.

Spear phishing emails are emails that pose as trusted sources seeking victims to voluntarily give sensitive information or have the recipient open a link or attachment that downloads malware onto their computer.

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Security software firm Trend Micro reports that 91 percent of all cyberattacks and resulting data breaches begin with a malignant email.

Cyber criminals targeting professionals to obtain client information is becoming more common, according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

These emails can appear that they are coming from potential clients or the IRS, but individuals must be aware of the warning signals.

The IRS warns tax professionals to be wary of the following threats:

  • If an email contains a link, hover your cursor over it to identify the link to the web address destination.
  • Don't take an email from a familiar source at face value.
  • If the email asks you to open an attachment, or includes a threat to close your account, think twice.

To protect yourself and client against spear phishing ploys:

  • Educate employees about spear phishing
  • Use unique passwords that use a mix of letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Consider verbal confirmation by phone rather than email.
  • Use security software to defend against malware and viruses.
  • Use security options that come with tax preparation software.

If you suspect a tax-related email is a phishing ploy, send it to phishing@irs.gov.

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