Just when you thought that you’ve done all that was needed to file your taxes this year…you get an URGENT email from the IRS that something is wrong and you must reply right away. Don’t!
Phishing emails and text messages are the preferred forms of communication for a variety of recent tax time scams. While they may appear to come from the IRS, they are actually designed by scammers to:
- Lure you into clicking on malicious links that install malware capable of stealing the personal information on your computer, smartphone or tablet
- Have you provide “missing” personal information, such as your social security number
- Pay them via a wire transfer or preloaded debit card with a threat of arrest if you do not comply
Scammers and thieves know that we have been “trained” to fear the IRS and they prey on our emotions. Over the years, many taxpayers have encountered individuals impersonating IRS officials – in person, over the telephone and via email.
What you should know…the IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media about a tax bill/refund or to request personal or financial information.This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.In fact, the IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail or “notices” delivered by the United States Postal Service.
- Forward an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or an IRS-related component like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
While the IRS has instituted new programs and resources to try and prevent tax ID theft, they warn that crooks continue to find new, more sophisticated ways to capitalize on our money. That’s why they have a comprehensive list of information about tax-time identity theft and helpful links at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection.
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