Sunday, April 14, 2024

Americans lose millions of dollars to online tax scams, McAfee study reveals

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As tax season reaches its peak, a new study by McAfee sheds light on the alarming rise of online tax scams in the US. The 2024 Tax Scams Study, which surveyed 2,500 American adults, reveals that a staggering 25% have fallen victim to these scams, with losses running into thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars.

The study highlights the growing sophistication of cybercriminals who are now leveraging artificial intelligence to craft more convincing scams. AI-powered messages, deepfake videos, and AI-generated audio are becoming increasingly common tools in the scammer’s arsenal. Despite these advancements, the study found that less than half of Americans feel confident in their ability to spot such fraudulent content.

One of the most concerning findings is that 68% of those who clicked on fraudulent links from supposed tax services lost money. Among these victims, 29% lost more than $2,500, and 17% lost more than $10,000. The situation is even grimmer for those who fell for cryptocurrency tax-related scams, with 76% losing money and a significant portion losing substantial amounts.

McAfee’s research also uncovered a surge in imposter scams, with 146,000 tax-related malicious URLs discovered in just one month, marking a 30% increase since December. The most common phishing email scams involved PDF attachments claiming to be from the IRS related to tax refunds and statements.

The study also sheds light on the general anxiety surrounding tax filing, with less than half of Americans feeling very confident about the process. This uncertainty, coupled with a lack of proactive measures to prevent scams, leaves many vulnerable to cybercriminals.

To protect yourself from tax scams, McAfee recommends being suspicious of emails and phone calls claiming to be from the IRS, never giving out personal information over the phone, being proactive in monitoring your credit report, and using AI-driven technology for online protection. Additionally, monitoring your credit and identity and having identity theft protection in place can help prevent tax fraud and facilitate a faster recovery if you do fall victim to identity theft.

As the tax season continues, it’s crucial for individuals to remain cautious and take the necessary steps to protect themselves from the ever-evolving threats posed by online tax scams.

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