BROOMFIELD, Colo., March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As the height of tax season approaches, it's important for all filers to be vigilant about avoiding tax scams. The problem, however, is that many of the sites fraudsters use look like those created and maintained by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other tax authorities. Fortunately, with the right Internet security software and a few simple tips, you can avoid the traps set by these "phishers" and keep the season's tax refund scams at bay.
To get the phishing protection you need during tax season – and throughout the year – you should install Internet security software that checks for phishing and malicious websites before you visit them. Phishing scams are often carried out via email, so it is important to have anti-spam protection as well. Use Internet security software with automatic updates to help you stay protected from the latest spyware, viruses, Trojans, keyloggers, worms and rootkits.
In addition to getting up-to-the minute protection by way of your Internet security software, maintaining safe online practices is an important part of avoiding tax scams. Just a few of the tell-tale signs that a seemingly legitimate tax site or email message is really the handiwork of phishers include:
- Messages contain dire warnings or extreme promises of a large refund
- Note: If you receive an email message or IM containing such a message, don't reply to the sender, don't email any sensitive information, and don't follow any link contained within the message
- The site promises to automatically transfer a tax refund to your bank account after you provide your banking information, credit card number and/or other personal details.
- The site's URL doesn't begin with http://www.irs.gov or another tax authority's primary URL name, and instead looks something like http://184.108.40.206/www.irs.gov/www.irs.gov/portal/info.html (or a similar iteration).
- Note: When in doubt, go directly from the tax authority's site by entering its primary URL directly into your Address Bar.
- The email seems to be a government tax agency but is requesting that you inform them of your debit card's PIN number (or provide other sensitive information) in order to receive your refund. The IRS does not send such messages – and already has the information it needs to provide you with a refund check or direct deposit.
- The email message alleges to be from the IRS (or another government agency) but has a file attached. Do not open the attachment, as these often contain harmful viruses or spyware.
For additional information about phishing protection, tips to help you avoid tax scams and information on how to choose the Internet security software that's right for you, visit http://www.webroot.com.