Beware of online tax scams

Credit: NBC

Beware of online tax scams


by Jay Gray / NBC


Posted on April 14, 2010 at 2:50 PM

This year more than 30 percent of us will file our taxes on-line.

That number has doubled in the last five years because many say working from their home computer is easier, and faster.

But is web-filing safe?

A new group of criminals is targeting e-filers and all of their personal information.

Hiding behind your computer monitor, inside your hard drive or under your keyboard could be a new brand of cyber-thief.

"We're seeing more and more complaints come in every day," said FBI Special Agent Jason Smolanoff.

The crooks are using links to fake government websites, e-mails or sites promising a faster refund hoping to get inside your computer.

"Just by visiting the website the person can actually download software onto their computer unbeknownst to them, that is actually going to track everything that they look at and everything that they're typing," said Travis Wilkins of Symantec.

It's called key logging with the target any and all of your personal information.

"The social security number is key to the kingdom," said correspondent Bob Sullivan.

Hackers are also looking for bank account and credit card numbers plus any other vital data.

"All of these items are sold on the underground black market for a lot of money," Wilkins said.

And often used to create fake credit cards.

"Credit cards are actually the number one item that’s stolen.  And it actually represents approximately a third of all the items being sold on the underground cybercrime black market," said Wilkins.

Security experts say the easiest way to make sure your identity and bank accounts stay safe is to keep all of your private information, just that, private.

"No government agency, no company that’s legitimate will ever ask you for that information so just say no to that," Sullivan said.

A tip, that can also be the key to a "happy return" this tax season.