That's not the IRS who's calling you

The perennial "IRS" phone scam recently surfaced at UC Davis, and if you need to know more about how to avoid these frauds, the campus offers short, free videos that will help you.

In the IRS scam, the target gets a call from someone, often abusive, who claims to represent the Internal Revenue Service and demands immediate payment of taxes. At least two UC Davis staff employees have recently reported these calls to campus police. Probably dozens more have received the calls without filing a report.

These scams are examples of "social engineering," which is also the subject of the first video in the campus Core Security Awareness training. Other videos cover email and messaging, browsing, and using social networks. Watching all 11 videos takes less than an hour.

UC Davis bought access to the training this year from the SANS Institute, which updates the information as needed and bases the videos on the 20 Critical Security Controls. This list, a security industry standard, identifies the 20 threats and vulnerabilities that are currently the most critical. Faculty and staff can view the videos at no charge.

Technological safeguards like firewalls and filters help deter fraud, but for the best defense, you need to know how to protect information and detect hoaxes. That way, if you get an abusive call from a fake IRS agent or any similar scammer, you'll know you can just hang up--and then make your own call, to the police.