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How emotions make taxpayers vulnerable to a phishing attack

Bill Morgan

April 29, 2019

After learning the basics about the tax code changes for 2019 filings, many Americans were still unclear about how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) would affect their tax returns. And many expected the same tax refund check that has always come in early spring.

But many are finding that with the tax changes, either they have to pay more, or their refund check is smaller. Despite efforts to explain why, many are upset or even angry.

Venting your anger online is a problem

Widespread internet access has allowed many Americans to share their lives online — typically through common social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Some users also comment on news articles and forum sites like Reddit and follow discussions on Twitter.

It’s quite popular to go online to vent your anger, or rant. The problem with venting is that there are cybercriminals who lurk online to capitalize on your emotions.

How criminals take advantage of your emotions

It’s actually quite simple to conduct some basic online research, much of which is now automated. Attackers can seamlessly uncover who is mad about their return and exploit that anger through highly personalized messages.

Such messages will attempt to appease the anger, indicating that 1) a refund amount has been increased; 2) there’s a way to increase a refund; 3) the decreased return is due to a misfiling or 4) the IRS made a mistake.

For years the IRS has warned citizens about scams like ghost preparers, W2 scams and even email phishing attacks. Criminals have sent emails impersonating the IRS and use tax transcripts as bait to entice users to open documents containing malware.

Here are some helpful tips to avoid becoming a victim of a phishing attack.

If you’re upset about your tax return this year, consider scheduling a tax planning strategy with Morgan & Associates so that you are able to properly plan your withholding and spending throughout the year. Next year you should know exactly how much to expect back.

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