ASK THE CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT TAX AND PAYROLL TAX ATTORNEY – A BIT OF HOLIDAY CHEER FROM BOGUS CHARITIES
By Robert S. Schriebman
The IRS has issued advice on protecting your mobile devices from cyber crooks. For the past several years, the IRS and its Security Summit partners have held annual conferences designed to update the public on the latest cyber scams and to offer suggestions on how to protect yourself from a cyber invasion. This year the IRS has published a new press release, IR-2021-236, November 29, 2021. The IRS wants the public to have a heightened awareness of schemes designed to obtain data from cell phones and other mobile devices.
The crooks have many objectives. In addition to stealing personal data, they want to file bogus income tax returns to steal your refunds. When you actually file your tax return and plan how to spend your refund, you may be met with a notice from the IRS that your refund has already been filed and a refund issued! Bogus refunds are going to be sought even for people who do not file tax refunds at all.
In addition, the crooks are out to steal stimulus payments. They are clever and they do everything they can to look like a real government agency. To protect yourself the IRS has published an updated list on common scams. The list is available at IRS Tax Tip: Common tax scams and tips to help taxpayers avoid them.
Cyber crooks are focusing on stealing data from cellphones. They have become more adept at compromising cellphones. The Federal Communications Commission has published Smartphone Security Checker. This will give you guidelines on how to secure cellphones and tablets. These devices have become just as vulnerable as your home computer. As the pandemic continues, crooks will develop numerous scams related to COVID-19. The Federal Trade Commission has issued alerts that allow you to keep abreast of the latest scam information and allow you to report COVID-related scams. Let’s face it, COVID is here to stay.
The IRS and its Security Summit partners have published a list of ten steps you can use to protect yourself:
- “Don’t forget to use security for computers, tablets and mobile phones – and keep it updated. Protect electronic devices of family members, especially teens and young children.”
- “Make sure anti-virus software for computers has a feature to stop malware, and there is a firewall enabled that can prevent intrusions.”
- “Phishing scams – like imposter emails, calls and texts – are the No. 1 way thieves steal personal data. Don’t open links or attachments on suspicious emails. This year, fraud scams related to COVID-19, Economic Impact Payments and other tax law changes are common.”
- “Use strong and unique passwords for online accounts. Use a phrase or series of words that can be easily remembered or use a password manager.”
- “Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Many email providers and social media sites offer this feature. It helps prevent thieves from easily hacking accounts.”
- “Shop at sites where the web address begins with ‘https’ – the ‘s’ is for secure communications over the computer network. Also, look for the ‘padlock’ icon in the browser window.”
- “Don’t shop on unsecured public Wi-Fi in places like a mall. Remember, thieves can eavesdrop.”
- “At home, secure home Wi-Fis with a password. With more homes connected to the web, secured systems become more important, from wireless printers, wireless door locks to wireless thermometers. These can be access points for identity thieves.”
- “Back up files on computers and mobile phones. A cloud service or an external hard drive can be used to copy information from computers or phones – providing an important place to recover financial or tax data.”
- “Working from home? Consider creating a virtual private network (VPN) to securely connect to your workplace.”
Be very wary of how cyber crooks attempt to steal from you. These crooks are smart. Do not underestimate them. Every day they develop new ways to appear very official. One way to protect yourself is to understand the IRS will never communicate with you via email. The IRS does not send text messages. Always be suspicious. Before giving out any information, make sure whoever is contacting you is the real deal. This is especially true if anyone contacts you concerning a tax refund. Before giving out any information, contact the IRS official website, IRS.gov, or call the official IRS hotline and 1-800-829-1040.
Robert Schriebman has a successful practice in the Rolling Hills Estates area of Los Angeles County serving clients throughout California and the United States. He has successfully dedicated more than 50 years to helping individual taxpayers, business owners, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and tax attorneys navigate the complicated tax systems of the federal and state governments. Mr. Schriebman is in private practice. He is not affiliated in any way with the EDD and he is not employed by the EDD or any other agency of the State of California.
Robert Schriebman has written the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See “California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures” and “California Taxation Practice and Procedure,” both published by Commerce Clearing House.
Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, “IRS Tax Collection Procedures – A Manual for Practitioners” published by Commerce Clearing House.
Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, “IRS Tax Collection Procedures – A Manual for Practitioners” published by Commerce Clearing House in addition to the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See “California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures” and California Taxation Practice and Procedure,” both published by Commerce Clearing House.
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