One Step Ahead: Tax Time Can Be Scam Time!

Another tip in a series provided by the 
Offices of Information Systems & Computing 
and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.


Tax season is upon us, and so are the scammers who want your refund and personal information. Efforts to prey upon you through tax-related scams often increase during this time of year. The good news is that there are strategies you can use to protect your information.

First, be aware that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will never contact taxpayers by email, telephone or social media. If you receive a telephone call purporting to be from the IRS, assume that it is a scam and disconnect the call. To help protect others, you can report these calls to the IRS at 

Scammers also use email and social media to try and steal your personal information via “phishing” attacks. Phishing is a communication that is crafted to appear legitimate, but is not. This is an attempt to persuade you to reveal personal information, such as your bank account or Social Security number. Be wary of emails that promise you a large refund, unexpected windfalls like a surprise raise or seek to collect money by sending you tax collection notices or other types of invoices for expensive items you didn’t order. Information Security maintains an archive of identified phishing attempts you can reference if you receive email you feel is suspicious: Please report suspicious email from a Penn email address or referencing the University to

Keep your PennKey password secure; do not share it with anyone under any circumstances. To learn how you can turn on two-step verification to provide extra security when you use your PennKey, visit:

Finally, make sure all your computers are secure and free from viruses and other forms of malware. The University makes Symantec Endpoint Protection antivirus software freely available to active faculty, staff and students at

For more information on information security and your taxes, see:


For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: