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Department of Taxation and Finance

Cyber Security Awareness: Don’t get scammed NYS Tax Department launches awareness campaign to help taxpayers spot security threats and safeguard their private information

For Release: Immediate,

For press inquiries only, contact: James Gazzale, 518-457-7377

In recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance will share tips in October to help taxpayers detect scams, protect sensitive information, and report suspicious activity.

This week’s tip: Be on guard against common scam tactics.

“Identity thieves and cyber criminals steal sensitive information from unsuspecting taxpayers in myriad ways,” said Acting Commissioner Nonie Manion. “The tactics run the gamut from the simple to the sophisticated, and include the use of phone calls, email phishing, traditional mail, and debit cards. We want taxpayers to be aware of at least the most obvious ones so they can protect themselves.”

Threatening calls—Scammers who use this tactic try to bully or trick victims into turning over private information, or convince them to wire money to pay a tax debt or fine. If a caller, perhaps posing as a NYS Tax Department or IRS agent, threatens an arrest or fines, it’s a scam. The Tax Department and IRS don’t threaten taxpayers and notify them by letter first before making any calls or sending any emails. 

Unusual emails—Phishing emails often contain links that can activate malware or lead to phony websites that request personal information. Misspellings or unfamiliar logos in the email or subject line are obvious clues that it’s a scam attempt. To be safe, simply delete these emails and any that are unsolicited, and never click the links within them. Hovering over the links, however, may reveal an unusual webpage address (URL) that confirms the sender’s true intent. Remember, the Tax Department never requests personal or financial information by email.

Offer to collect payment in person—If a caller claiming to be from the Tax Department offers to meet you at a specified location for payment, you’re being scammed. This is never an option with the Tax Department. Hang up immediately.

Request for a specific type of payment—If you’re being told to pay through a prepaid debit card or an iTunes gift card, this is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The Tax Department provides various payment options, but the use of gift cards isn’t one of them. If you’re only given one specific way to make a payment, it’s a scam.

Report it

If you believe you’ve been contacted by a con artist posing as someone from the New York State Tax Department, visit the Tax Department’s Report fraud, scams, and identity theft webpage to learn how to report the incident. The Tax Department will investigate the case or refer it to the appropriate agency or agencies.

To learn more about recent scam alerts affecting New Yorkers, as well as identity theft prevention and mitigation tips, please visit the New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) website. In addition, if you need assistance with a consumer protection-related matter, please feel free to call the DCP Consumer Helpline, toll free, at 1-800-697-1220.