Tax season is the perfect time for scammers to try to take advantage of you, information security professionals with UAB IT warn.

According to the IRS, sophisticated phone scams targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, have been making the rounds across the United States. Callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. 

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told “they have a refund due” to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.

Limited English proficiency victims are often approached in their native language, threatened with deportation, police arrest and license revocation, among other things. IRS urges all taxpayers caution before paying unexpected tax bills. Note that the IRS doesn’t:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Please keep in mind that scammers will try to perform this attack via phishing emails. Please be aware and vigilant of these efforts. If you suspect that you have received or fallen victim to a tax-related scam, contact the IRS at Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

For additional information about this tax season’s scams, refer to this IRS web site.

UAB will soon have new ways to visualize data to help make more informed decisions for the university and its students.

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees last month approved the purchase of licenses for Tableau, a software that produces interactive data visualization for business intelligence.

UAB IT will launch a pilot rollout of the software to those on campus already using the tool.

“Initially, we will work with organizations already using it to expand their capabilities,” said Scott Sorenson, assistant vice president for data operations and business transformations.

One of the UAB’s IT strategic imperatives calls for fostering a institutional culture of data-driven decision making, and the Tableau software will help take that data and make it visual for those who are studying it.

“It takes mind-numbing spreadsheets and turns them into charts and graphs,” Sorenson said. “It has practical implications for student performance, donor engagement and space management, among other uses.”

The result empowers researchers, faculty, students and employees to do their work with greater efficiency — and we'll be taking that network to the community of IT entrepreneurs next. For researchers, the network includes a Science DMZ which separates research network traffic to create a faster pipeline for collaboration.

Watch the video to learn more about how we have co-authored these solutions, what we have done and what is planned in the future.

A new feature in UAB email that will alert you when you receive an email from outside UAB will launch on Saturday, Feb. 24.

The external sender alerts are intended to help you distinguish when an email comes from off campus, because phishing emails can often mimic the email addresses of your colleagues — making you think that someone at UAB is sending you a legitimate message.

In February, UAB IT will be launching a new feature in UAB email that will alert you when you receive an email from outside UAB. The external sender notice will look like the screenshot below.

ExternalSender screenshot

So if an outside vendor sends you a message or a student emails from his or her personal account, you will receive the notification at the top of the email. If you trust the source, you can disregard the notification.

But if someone trying to scam you fakes a UAB email address — as was the case with a widely-circulated phishing email purporting to be from UAB President Dr. Ray Watts last year — you will be warned to take caution opening any attachments or clicking any links included in the message.

If you do suspect you have received a phishing email, you can report it via PhishMe Reporter or forward it to

Learn more about phishing and how you can limit your risk of falling for a scam email here.
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