Scammers are active in our area, be careful. In the past couple of weeks, our office has two obvious scam attempts. One was a company representing an unspecified tech support company for windows, alerting me that they have noticed that my computer is suffering from a virus. This is a phishing scam. They promise wish to repair it if I give them remote access to the computer, once inside, the call disconnects, and they can now navigate my computer for personal information including bank accounts, credit cards, passwords, etc. Very scary for those who fall for this. Do not give out remote access to anyone you are not familiar, and even then, use scrutiny. Tech support teams do not call you. You call them first, and you would need to be on a service plan to receive any support.
The second call was a threatening voice message claiming to be from IRS and that they are about to file a lawsuit. Then they give a number to call. We didn’t call back, but a quick online search proved that the number did not belong to the IRS. There are many variations of this IRS scam through text, emails and phone calls. We are passing along some information from the IRS website in the event this happens to you.
Consumers Warned of New Surge in IRS E-mail Schemes during 2016 Tax Season; Tax Industry Also Targeted
IR-2016-28, Feb. 18, 2016 Español
The Internal Revenue Service renewed a consumer alert for e-mail schemes after seeing an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents Through Februaru 2016.
The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. E-mails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.
Variations of these scams can be seen via text messages, and the communications are being reported in every section of the country.
“This dramatic jump in these scams comes at the busiest time of tax season,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Watch out for fraudsters slipping these official-looking emails into inboxes, trying to confuse people at the very time they work on their taxes. We urge people not to click on these emails.”
This tax season the IRS has observed fraudsters more frequently asking for personal tax information, which could be used to help file false tax returns.
When people click on these email links, they are taken to sites designed to imitate an official-looking website, such as IRS.gov. The sites ask for Social Security numbers and other personal information. The sites also may carry malware, which can infect people’s computers and allow criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information.
“While more attention has focused on the continuing IRS phone scams, we are deeply worried this increase in email schemes threatens more taxpayers,” Koskinen said. “We continue to work cooperatively with our partners on this issue, and we have taken steps to strengthen our processing systems and fraud filters to watch for scam artists trying to use stolen information to file bogus tax returns.”
As the email scams increase, the IRS is working on this issue through the Security Summit initiative with state revenue departments and the tax industry. Many software companies, tax professionals and state revenue departments have seen variations in the schemes.
For example, tax professionals are also reporting phishing scams that are seeking their online credentials to IRS services, for example the IRS Tax Professional PTIN System. Tax professionals are also reporting that many of their clients are seeing the e-mail schemes.
As part of the effort to protect taxpayers, the IRS has teamed up with state revenue departments and the tax industry to make sure taxpayers understand the dangers to their personal and financial data as part of the “Taxes. Security. Together” campaign.
If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS e-services portal or an organization closely linked to the IRS, report it by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page.
It is important to keep in mind the IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS has information online that can help protect taxpayers from email scams.
Phishing and malware schemes again made the IRS “Dirty Dozen” tax scam list this year. Check out the last IRS Phishing Scam news release for more info.
What to look for in these scams
Taxpayers receive an official-looking email from what appears to be an official source, whether the IRS or someone in the tax industry.
The underlying messages frequently ask taxpayers to update important information by clicking on a web link. The links may be masked to appear to go to official pages, but they can go to a scam page designed to look like the official page. The IRS urges people not to click on these links but instead send the email to email@example.com.
Recent email examples the IRS has seen include subject lines and underlying text referencing:
- Numerous variations about people’s tax refund.
- Update your filing details, which can include references to W-2.
- Confirm your personal information.
- Get my IP Pin.
- Get my E-file Pin.
- Order a transcript.
- Complete your tax return information.
Additional IRS resources
- IRS and Partner Statements on the October 2015 Security Summit Meeting
- Fact Sheet 2016-1, IRS, States and Tax Industry Combat Identity Theft and Refund Fraud on Many Fronts
- Fact Sheet 2016-2, IRS, States and Tax Industry Urge Taxpayers to Join the Effort to Combat Identity Theft
- Fact Sheet 2016-3, IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works
- Fact Sheet 2016-4, How New Identity Security Changes May Affect Taxpayers for 2016