Data security is crucial for the survival of your company and the wellbeing of your employees. Unfortunately, there are wrongdoers throughout the world who will try to compromise your data by phishing.
Although their actions are certainly fishy, were not talking trout here. Phishing occurs when a person or group tries to bait someone into giving up his or her personal information, including bank account, credit card details, usernames and passwords, and social security number.
On the surface, phishing seems easy to combat: just don't give them the information. Phishers caught on quickly to people's wariness, though, and have devised tricky ways to reel in victims. They masquerade as a legitimate company, complete with logo and even website. It looks like the real thing. People are led to believe they're simply completing an online profile or even guarding themselves against security threats when they've actually swum directly into the mouth of the whale.
Generally speaking, legitimate companies don't ask for confidential data via email or phone. If in doubt, contact the company and ask.
Don't use the phone number or links in the suspected email or website. Instead, open a new browser window and do an internet search for the company's contact information.
Phishing is a federal crime and can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
Tax-specific emails are especially prevalent this time of year, with phishers masquerading as the IRS to gain a wealth of personal information. The IRS warns against this and other scams that can leave taxpayers floundering in their Dirty Dozen list:
- Phone scams impersonating IRS agents
- Fake emails or websites phishing for information
- Identity theft and filing returns using someone else's social security number
- Dishonest tax preparers, filing false returns and stealing information
- Avoiding taxes by hiding income in offshore accounts
- Tax preparers promising a big refund in exchange for signing a blank return
- Fake charities, some of which are similar to well-known legitimate ones
- Hiding income using a false 1099 or other documents
- Abusive, complex tax shelters that sound too good to be true
- Inventing income to claim tax credits
- Excessive claims for the fuel tax credit
- Outlandish excuses to avoid paying taxes
To learn more, check out our other tips on data security or contact Nextep's HR team.