Phishing scam could threaten private tax information

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COLUMBIA - The IRS warned tax preparers on Thursday of a phishing scheme in which hackers are hoping to get clients' private tax information. The hackers are pretending to be software providers and trying to coax preparers into clicking a bogus link.

According to Sean Spence of the Columbia Better Business Bureau, the scam has never been seen before. Scams targeting regular people are common, but this one is different.

"This is a brand new scam," Spence said. "I do think that if tax preparers fall for it, it obviously puts a lot of people's information at risk, so I think it's important that we let tax preparers know."

Tami Benus, a Columbia CPA, said people should check their credit reports yearly to make sure their personal information has not been compromised. She also suggests requesting a transcript from the IRS because it will tell if anyone is doing business in your name.

"Unfortunately, none of us are free from them," she said. "It used to be that they only went after the big guys. Now they're realizing that some of the smaller companies don't have all the protocol in place and they're easier to get into."

Benus said her software sends emails with a distinct look, so if something seems off, she would just call the company.

Spence said if someone receives a questionable email, they can call their local police department or the Better Business Bureau for help determining if they are at risk.