Tax Refund Phish
Over the weekend and this morning, FIT (and many of our peer SUNY campuses) received emails from several senders all purporting to represent the IRS, with a subject line of “Recalculating Your Tax Refund Payment.” The emails contained a click button that brings users to a site that looks like an IRS.gov site, but is in fact a look-alike site that intends to steal information and may load malware as well.
Tax scams are common this time of year: See our 2017 Cybersafe article on the topic. And, this scam capitalizes on confusion whether the recent COVID stimulus bill further requires recipients to re-do their taxes. In addition, cyberattacks against higher-education institutions are on the rise this year due to the increased prevalence of remote learning; phishing is one of the primary means of attack.
We’ve removed the fraudulent emails and blocked the senders. However, since the attacker can simply adopt a new sender name and try again, we wanted to make the community aware.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Use extreme caution when receiving emails with attachments and links. These links or attachments can be malware that will infect your computer. What looks like a legitimate hyperlink can be a link to a criminal website. When in doubt, hover your mouse over the text of the hyperlink; you should see the full URL, which will help to show whether it leads to a legitimate website.
- Exercise caution with all email communications you receive, including those that purport to be from a trusted entity. Inspect the sender’s information to confirm the email was generated from a legitimate source. Read more about the 4 Don’ts.
- If you are unsure about an email, contact the sender to confirm using a valid method that is known to you. Don’t use a phone number or email supplied in the suspicious email.
- Lock down your personal information by enabling two-factor authentication on as many of your online financial accounts as possible.
- Make sure you have a trusted, up-to-date, and active antivirus software installed on your home computer. Learn more here.