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Email Scam Under the Name of IRS Try to gain EFIN of Tax Preparers

 

A lot of people are familiar with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scam letters about the tax season that are phishing for money. Now, in a virtual version of the fake IRS letter, a different kind of IRS scam aims for tax practitioners. 

The IRS has instructed tax practitioners to seek for the scam that tries to obtain the E-Filing Identification Number (EFIN) of a victim. Here, intruders use a fake email to attack the identity and customer information of tax preparers. Besides, attackers can impersonate the tax preparer and submit fake tax returns to receive refunds, if they have the data. 

The hoax started with a scam email, as per the IRS. The message claimed to have come from 'IRS tax e-filing.' This was an e-mail that went under the heading - ‘Verifying your EFIN before e-filing.’ The e-mail informs the tax preparer that certain documents are to be sent to check and get approved by the e-file staff. It then requests a copy of its EFIN and the license number of its driver. To make the situation more urgent, the email warns that, unless you comply, the IRS will disable e-filing access for the tax preparer. 

This season, many other major tax scams have also been identified by the IRS and other sources. For example, the IRS cautioned taxpayers in early February against threatening 'ghost' preparers of the tax return who are refusing to sign the returns they are making. Every return prepared needs the Preparer Tax Number and it should be signed by the tax preparers as well. The IRS says that the lack of signature may suggest the fraudulent activity of the tax preparer. They may be promising, depending on the size of those refunds, for example, big refunds charging huge fees and accordingly. 

Through investing in their e-mail security defense, organizations can protect themselves and their users against such an IRS scam. One way they could do this is to develop a safety education program and educate employees about some of the most common kinds of publicly available tax-based phishing emails and other scams. Organizations should continuously test their employees to keep their employees informed of this IRS scam and similar attacks. Threat intelligence should be used to keep up with the latest tax scams. 

Furthermore, the IRS advised the tax preparers to avoid undertaking any of the email steps. It's best to delete the email and not respond in any way.

Bulgaria’s tax agency hacker released

A cybersecurity expert accused of hacking the data of more than 5 million Bulgarian taxpayers was released by police Wednesday after his charges were downgraded.

Kristian Boykov, a 20-year-old Bulgarian cybersecurity worker, was arrested in Bulgaria's capital Sofia last week in connection to the breach. Police raided his home and seized computers and mobile devices with encrypted information. The hacker was found by police through the computer and software used in the attack, according to the Sofia prosecutor's office.

Due to his work, which involves testing computer networks for potential vulnerabilities, some believe Boykov is a "white hat hacker" — a hacker that breaks into computer networks to expose vulnerabilities and push for the weaknesses to be fixed.

He has made news in Bulgaria before. In 2017, he hacked the Bulgarian education ministry's website to expose its vulnerabilities. In a television interview, he described the work as "fulfilling my civic duty."

Sofia prosecutors claim they tracked one of the stolen files from the latest data breach to a username used by Boykov. Boykov and his lawyer reject the allegations against him and say he was not involved in the incident.

The hack of the nation's tax agency database is believed to be the largest data breach in Bulgaria's history. Nearly every working adult in Bulgaria was impacted. In a country of 7 million, more than 5 million people had personal data such as social security information, addresses, incomes and names leaked and made easily accessible on the Internet.

Boykov was initially charged with a computer crime against critical infrastructure, with a maximum sentence of eight years in jail. Those charges were dropped and he was given a lesser charge of crime against information systems, which has a maximum jail sentence of three years.

The initial hack is believed to have happened in June. The breach remained undetected until an email from a Russian email address was sent to Bulgarian news outlets last week claiming responsibility for the attack. In the email, the sender claimed to be a Russian hacker, gave downloadable links to the stolen information and mocked Bulgaria's cybersecurity efforts.