A cybersecurity expert has warned taxpayers to be extra vigilant as tax season begins on July 1.
GoldPhish, a cybersecurity awareness training platform that helps businesses defend against potential attacks, says that Tax fraud has increased significantly and is becoming more sophisticated in SA.
CEO Dan Thornton said tax season — when taxpayers complete and submit annual tax returns to the SA Revenue Service (Sars) — is a prime opportunity for identity thieves to to reach out to people with realistic-looking emails and SMS about returns and refunds.
“Taxpayers need to beware of these Sars impersonation scams, in which criminals pose as Sars agents, to steal their victims’ money or personal information,” he said.
“The latter can lead to identity theft, which allows scammers to steal tax returns en on behalf of their victims and stealing their tax returns, in addition to other negative financial repercussions.”
Thornton said common fraud tactics used by Cyberc Criminals during tax season include SMS scams (better known smishing), email scams (phishing), phone scams (vishing), and refund scams.
The cybersecurity awareness training company warned taxpayers to be wary of professional-looking “tax return” phishing emails emails pretending to be Sars, which are actually fraudulent messages tricking people into revealing certain information, such as bank account details.
“These emails contain Links to sample forms and ge fake websites that look like the real thing, but with the aim of tricking people into entering personal information, which the criminals can then use in a variety of ways.”
The company said another tactic is it to try and convince taxpayers that they are entitled to a rebate or refund from Sars.
“The scammers pretending to be from Sars will ask you for a small initial payment to cover administrative fees or Pay taxes to collect the amount owed to you. Sars will never request your bank or credit card details in any communication,” it said.
How to protect yourself
- Verify the identity of the Contact them by calling the relevant organization directly – find them using an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
- Remember that government agencies or trusted companies will never contact you to ask you to pay money upfront to get a Request a fee or discount.
- Never send money or give credit card information, online account information, or copies of personal documents to people you don’t know or trust, and never via email . Sars will not send you hyperlinks to any other website, including those of banks.
- Avoid making arrangements with a stranger who requests prepayment via money order, wire transfer, international wire transfer, prepaid cards, or electronic currency.
- Protect your identity – your personal information is private and invaluable; Keep them away from scammers. Always remain cautious before disclosing any personal information by phone, email or online form.
- Report any suspicious activity or communications received to the Sars Fraud and Anti-Corruption Hotline at 0800-002870.