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Tax season brings cybersecurity threats to personal information

Individuals and business owners in Georgia naturally take communications from the Internal Revenue Service seriously, but the agency warns that cyber criminals often take advantage of people's willingness to comply with tax requests. Criminals will attempt to access personal and financial information or load malicious software onto computers.

To help businesses avoid security breaches, the IRS has issued warnings about scams meant to access employees' W-2 forms that contain information that could enable identity theft. Thieves will direct emails that appear legitimate to human resources departments and request W-2 forms. Staff members with access and control of employee personal information must always confirm requests for information.

Thieves often target accountants and tax preparers with their scams. Professionals who handle and transfer large amounts of personal financial information can obtain special security guidance from the IRS.

Hackers hoping to take control of computers also send phishing emails to individuals. These messages often ask a recipient to click on a link or attachment to get a refund or send in additional information. Any email purporting to be from the IRS is a scam because the agency only sends correspondence by U.S. Mail and never by text message, social media or email.

When a person does receive a letter from the IRS, it could contain notices like an IRS levy that requires immediate attention. An attorney familiar with tax law could provide advice to someone confronted by the threat of a wage levy or tax lien on a property. An attorney could explain the meaning of the notice and explain options for responding. To protect a person's rights, an attorney might appeal the decision and strive to prevent the seizure of property or wages. With legal representation, a person might arrange an alternative method for settling a tax debt.

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