IRS Warns of Email Scam

by: Christopher T. Craig

The IRS has warned taxpayers and financial professionals about a new IRS email impersonation scam campaign which is spreading nationally. It is important to remember, the IRS never sends unsolicited emails to taxpayers, especially ones about your refund status. "The IRS does not send emails about your tax refund or sensitive financial information," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "This latest scheme is yet another reminder that tax scams are a year-round business for thieves. We urge you to be on-guard at all times."

While the email subject lines vary, recent examples have been, "Automatic Income Tax Reminder" or "Electronic Tax Return Reminder". These emails then contain links that show a website looking like IRS.gov, with details pretending to be about the taxpayer's refund, electronic return, or tax account. The emails also contain a "temporary password" or "one-time password" to access the files to submit the refund.

When taxpayers try to access these, it turns out to be a malicious file or virus. These computers are then infected with malware and imposters may gain control of the taxpayer's computer or secretly download software that tracks every keystroke. This would give the imposters passwords and access to sensitive or private information, such as financial accounts.

The IRS has stated in the past it will never initiate contact with a taxpayer by text message, social media, or email 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. Further, the IRS also does not call to demand immediate payment and will not request a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.

Additional information on phishing scams can be found at the "Report Phishing and Online Scams" page on the IRS's website.

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