Cyber Thieves Target Tax Professionals and Businesses

NYS Tax Department Shares Security Tips During National Tax Security Awareness Week

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today reminded corporations, businesses, and tax professionals to be wary of various tax scams.

Massive data breaches at corporations and credit-reporting agencies have already left millions vulnerable to identity theft. Con artists also carry out schemes to steal sensitive employee information from smaller organizations.

In recent years, cybercriminals posing as company executives and using social-engineering tactics have convinced payroll and HR professionals by email and phone to provide lists of employees and their personal information. Scammers have pilfered confidential data in a variety of industries this way, including school districts and nonprofits.

Identity thieves have also targeted tax professionals by posing as return processors, tax software representatives, and as clients to gain access to records containing sensitive personal and tax information.

In one scenario, a scam artist poses as a client and sends an initial email request for tax-preparation assistance. This is followed by a second email with a link or an attached PDF that contains a link. If the preparer falls for the scam and clicks the link, malware is installed on the preparer’s computer allowing the cyber thief to steal the preparer’s password and access confidential client data.

“Tax professionals and others entrusted with confidential tax and sensitive personal information must be vigilant to protect their clients’ and employees’ personal information from sophisticated scam artists,” said Acting Commissioner Nonie Manion. “This information should be provided to trusted sources only, such as the IRS and the New York State Tax Department. Neither agency will ever make threats over the phone or request personal or financial information by email.”

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