It’s everyone’s least favourite time of year. No, not going to the dentist, or that annual physical. We’re talking about the dreaded tax season.
The weeks leading up to the annual tax deadline be stressful and anxiety-inducing. What can make tax season even worse? Phishing scams.
Companies across North America have lost millions of dollars to tax-related scams. These scams can come at your business in a variety of ways—e-mail, snail mail, phone, text. As criminals get smarter, you need to work harder to keep your business safe.
We’ve talked at length about IT security, and phishing, on the Ricoh blog channel before. But as tax season starts to loom, we want you to keep yourself, and your business, safe this year.
Here are some tips for protecting yourself during the 2019 tax season:


Know your government

Do a quick Google search to learn the legitimate ways the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or your accounting firm may try to contact you if there is a concern with your tax filing or refund.
Are you receiving phone calls demanding personal information? Are you being asked via email to provide confidential information? Before providing any personal or private business information to anyone, check on the official websites of the CRA or IRS to find out how these government bodies conduct their communications.


Examine the request

If you receive an email, at work or to your personal account, asking for information about your tax filing, take a close look at the sender’s email address.
What follows the @ sign? Is it a real e-mail address, or is it an imposter pretending to represent the government or your accountants?
Consider the body of the email. What are they asking of you? Many times, phishing attempts will be made using questions that force you to click on a link and fill out a form with personal information. On other occasions, these crooks use scare tactics claiming that your credit card or lines of credit have been wrongfully used.
Before you do anything, ask yourself if the request passes the common-sense “smell test.” Does this seem reasonable or logical? And is this how a government body or a financial institution would conduct business?


Protect your employees

Over the recent years, tax scammers have begun targeting HR and Finance employees at businesses to try and gain access to payroll information.
Consider deploying a communications campaign aimed at educating your employees on phishing emails or phone calls related to tax filing—and ensure that you have a process in place for employees to flag these types of scams to your IT department.
Exercise caution. After all, you don’t want a run-in with a 21st-century scam artist—as well as the taxman—during the dreaded T4 or 1040 season.