Tips to Help You Stay Cyber Safe During the Tax Season

Posted on: January 27, 2017

Tax season is a prime time every year when phishing scams, tax fraud and other cyberattacks are in full force. The Information Security Office (ISO) is concerned for our information safety and the safety of campus resources, and advises us to be especially alert during this time.

Over the past two months, the ISO has identified two major phishing scams that have impacted close to 200 people on campus. Because the victims were identified quickly there have been no breaches of university data or further harm to the victims. Interestingly, the attacks target discovering UT EID credentials, not Social Security Numbers. Nonetheless, it is important for everyone to remember that attackers take full advantage of careless or uninformed people. Thanks to the vigilance of the ISO, UT Austin information resources were not breached despite the tsunami of more sophisticated tactics used by attackers.

2017 is expected to top numbers from last year, when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported that 1 out of every 100 taxpayers were victims of tax fraud. Last year, nearly 130 UT Austin faculty and staff were impacted by tax scams in which attackers filed a forged return and received a fraudulent tax refund.

Phishing scams, spoofed calls, compromised tax preparation software, malware infections and just plain old thievery from your mailbox at home are real and significant threats. Here are some recommendations on what you can do to stay cyber safe:

  • Set up UT Austin Two Factor Authentication. This will help protect your W-2 with multiple layers of additional authentication. Learn more online.
  •  Set up a transcript account with the IRS. Do this before an attacker does! More information is available on the IRS website.
  • Create an account with the Social Security Administration. Again, do this before you or your finances are harmed.
  • Take advantage of available practical resources. Here is a sample; there are many other resources online:
  • Subscribe to a service that monitors your credit. (I do this and the service contacted me when a criminal tried to take out small internet loans using my information. The service assigned an investigator who successfully guided me through the byzantine credit file correction process.)

Please contact the ISO if you have any questions or feel you have been the victim of any type of cyber fraud.

Remember to stay cyber safe!