Protecting Account and Routing Numbers @IRS.Com

By November 20, 2009 Individuals

Every year we get calls from our clients regarding scam emails and notices that they have received.  The nature of the financial and accounting industry makes computer stored information a valuable resource.  Here are some tips on protecting account and routing numbers, personal information and/or your identity in one of these scams.

Computer privacy attacks are on the rise, and attackers are getting sophisticated.  Even the best virus software can’t protect you from identity theft if someone can get you to volunteer your personal information.  One of the simplest tactics is to play on your fears of the Internal Revenue Service.

The most recent scam is an email from reports@mail.irs.gov that has Notice of Underreported Income as the subject.  The email pretends to be from the IRS in order to get you to provide personal information or open programs that will mine that information from your computer.

The IRS will never send you unsolicited email.

If you ever receive a questionable letter or phone call from the IRS, please contact your tax advisor immediately.  If you receive an unsolicited email from the IRS, do not open any attachments and forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.  You can get more information on current scams that the IRS is monitoring at irs.gov.

One popular mail fraud in Florida includes an official looking notice that you must display specific labor law posters, and an order form to purchase the posters.  This scam is designed to price gouge by scaring you into purchasing from them.  Most of these labor law posters and notices can be found for free or for much cheaper prices.

Recently we received an email pretending to be from Quickbooks informing us that we would need to download a new security certificate in order for Quickbooks Online to work.  Quickbooks Online is a web-based program and should not require you to download software onto your computer.  Sure enough, Quickbooks’ support website has this email listed as one of the scam emails they have discovered.

Other computer attacks to avoid include banner ads or popups declaring that your computer has viruses, offering free virus and adware scans, offering other free offers or items, or telling you that you are the xth visitor to the site and just won something.

Computer viruses and attacks are common, but you can take some simple steps to protect your information:
• Make sure you have good, up to date virus software that includes adware and malware protection
• Consider implementing company-wide internet policies and controls for your employees.  Contact your accountant, lawyer, or human resources expert for forms and verbiage compliant with FACTA identity theft regulations.
• Review your internet security settings and consider firewall software
• Use common sense.  If an internet deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t open junk emails or visit sites you don’t trust, and never ever give any personal information to billionaire Nigerian princes unless you know them personally!