Thanks to a 60% increase in email phishing scams over the past year, the IRS is cautioning taxpayers to be extra vigilant this tax season.
These are the most common tax-related phishing scams:
- Tax transcript scams. Victims are conned into opening emails that appear to be from the IRS claiming to have important information about their taxes. These emails actually contain malware.
- Threatening emails. These phony emails appear to be from the IRS, demanding immediate payment for supposed unpaid back taxes. When the victim clicks on the embedded link, their device is infected with malware.
- Refund rebound. A crook posing as an IRS agent will email a taxpayer, claiming they’ve been awarded an excessive refund. The scammer then demands immediate return of the “extra” money via prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
- Phony phone call. A caller appearing to represent the IRS claims the victim owes thousands of dollars in taxes that must be paid immediately and under threat of arrest.
If your Caller ID announces that the IRS is on the phone, don’t pick up! Answering the phone will mark you as an easy target for future scams.
Similarly, never open suspicious-looking emails claiming to be about tax information. Forward suspicious tax-related emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and alert the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov.
Protect yourself against tax scams with these steps:
- File early in the season.
- Use the strongest security settings for your computer.
- Use unique and strong passwords.
- Choose two-step authentication when possible.
Remember, the IRS will never:
- Call about taxes owed without having first sent you a bill via snail mail.
- Call to demand immediate payment.
- Threaten to have you arrested for unpaid taxes.
- Require you to use a specific payment method.