Avoid Tax Identity Fraud

Tax season is upon us. February, March and April serve as the prime time for tax scammers to act as the IRS or other reputable institutions to attempt to steal your sensitive data.

The Associated Press reports that in the past five years there has been a 400 percent rise in tax scams. Since 2013, the IRS has seen over 5,000 victims pay over $26.5 million as a result of a scam.

Tax scams can originate over the phone or email. Scammers use technology to disguise a call using your local area code, so it’s not just 1-800 numbers anymore. Hackers may use urgent or threatening language such as “late payment” or “everything under your name will be seized unless you pay.”

If you receive a call like this, hang up. Do not trust the caller ID. If you have questions about a call, and believe that it might be real, call the IRS directly to confirm. Hackers communicate via email, but the IRS does not. The IRS only sends postal mail. Hackers regularly pose as the IRS or DocuSign to attempt to get users to click on a link in an email to provide sensitive data. Do not ever submit personal information via email, and if you do receive an email like this, delete it.

If you do provide sensitive information over the phone or through email, please contact your local authorities. The IRS works aggressively to prevent and detect tax-related identity theft. Visit irs.gov for more information. OIT also warns UA employees of known phishing attempts. Always check oit.ua.edu/news for updates and phishing attempt alerts.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.