The Contractors’ State License Board (CSLB) wants to make sure licensees are aware of an increase in online scams related to federal Economic Impact Payments.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and the nation’s tax professionals industry continue to see a spike in cases of data theft and phishing scams related to COVID-19 and federal stimulus payments.
The scams look to take advantage of vulnerable licensed contractors and other taxpayers who may be unaware of how Economic Impact Payments will reach them. The IRS offered suggestions to combat cyber criminals:
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication to protect data. If your tax software provides multi-factor authentication (in English, usually a security code and a text message with a second code), the IRS suggests licensees enable this security feature. It typically only requires a cellphone.
- Avoid Phishing Scams. Identity thieves have increased the number of phishing emails sent to taxpayers. Never click on suspicious links in emails from unfamiliar people or organizations. Taxpayers can forward suspicious emails to the IRS by sending them to [email protected]
- Watch out for IRS impersonation scams. The IRS will never call, email or text anyone about Economic Impact Payments.
- Use security software. Everyone should use security software on computers and mobile phones that prevent potentially dangerous malware from infecting digital networks.
For more information on protecting yourself, read Safeguarding Taxpayer Data —AGuide for your Business, at //www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4557.pdf
For an updated list of CSLB services available during the COVID-19 health emergency, including all CSLB online services and frequently asked questions, visit //cslb.ca.gov/About_us/COVID-19.aspx
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
As of press time, all CSLB offices and test centers around California are closed to the public. They say they are sorry for any inconvenience this causes, and for any delays you may experience reaching their staff or for any potential delays in processing times.
Many CSLB services are now available to the public online. Visit: //cslb.ca.gov/ to see all available online services. You can also begin an email exchange with CSLB staff, who remain on-duty Monday through Friday.