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Department of Taxation and Finance

Protect Yourself from Internet Scammers and Identity Thieves October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month; The Tax Department reminds New Yorkers to remain vigilant throughout the year and shares guidance on how to safeguard your information from scams

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 today encouraged taxpayers to remain vigilant to thwart cyber criminals and their increasingly sophisticated scams.

“Scammers will search for any system vulnerability or tidbit of personal information, whether revealed in a social media post or in response to a seemingly routine email, to help them commit these crimes,” said Acting Commissioner Nonie Manion. “National Cyber Security Awareness Month provides an opportune time to remind citizens to be more vigilant in protecting their sensitive information.”

Identity thieves and cyber criminals steal sensitive information from unsuspecting taxpayers in a variety of ways—from launching sophisticated phishing schemes to dumpster diving for documents containing sensitive personal information.

Their tactics can include the use of threatening phone calls, social engineering, authentic-looking emails with enticing links or attachments, or thumb drives harboring malware.

Real-life examples

New York taxpayers have been contacted by scammers who threaten arrest if a fictitious tax debt isn’t paid immediately. This is an obvious scam tactic. To make themselves appear more convincing, the scammers provide the victim with a phone number, address, and confirmation code specific to the transaction.

The caller then demands payment in person or with iTunes gift cards. The Tax Department would never accept this form of payment or require you to meet in person to pay a debt. Listen to a recording of a scam call here.

Con artists have also stolen the identities of New Yorkers who often first discover they’ve been victimized when their tax returns are rejected. The return is rejected because a cyber thief has already filed a return to claim a refund using the victim’s Social Security number.

Online scammers will also send emails that appear to be from the Tax Department, or other trustworthy sources, asking for private information. These phishing schemes are designed to trick you into sharing confidential information. Remember, the Tax Department never requests personal or financial data by email. Learn how to spot a bogus email here.

As their schemes advance, the Tax Department continually bolsters its defenses and resources to protect confidential taxpayer information and the victims of identity theft. Taxpayers should likewise take proactive measures to reduce the likelihood that they’ll become victims.

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, working with our partner agencies as necessary, will investigate the case.