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IRS Consumer Alert: Email Phishing Tax Scams up 400 Percent

Posted by Concannon Miller on Tue, Feb 23, 2016

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Fraud_Alert_sign.jpgThe IRS has re-issued a consumer alert on email schemes after witnessing a 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season.

The emails seek to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, the IRS says in a press release issued Feb. 18. The phishing schemes have asked taxpayers about a wide range of topics, including information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information, the agency said.

“Watch out for fraudsters slipping these official-looking emails into inboxes, trying to confuse people at the very time they work on their taxes,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says in the release. “We urge people not to click on these emails.”

RELATED: Federal Government: Taxpayers Should be on 'High Alert' for Scams

When people click on these email links, they are taken to sites designed to imitate an official-looking website, such as IRS.gov, the agency said. The sites also may carry malware, which can infect computers and allow criminals to access files or track keystrokes to gain information.

The IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information, the agency said. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media.

Recent email examples the IRS has seen include subject lines and underlying text referencing:

  • Numerous variations about tax refunds
  • 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

If you receive 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 phishing@irs.gov, the agency said.

READ MORE: 10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Tax Filings

Topics: Scam warnings

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This communication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered at the time it was published. However, the general information herein is not intended to be nor should it be treated as tax, legal, or accounting advice. Additional issues could exist that would affect the tax treatment of a specific transaction and, therefore, taxpayers should seek advice from an independent tax advisor based on their particular circumstances before acting on any information presented. This information is not intended to be nor can it be used by any taxpayer for the purposes of avoiding tax penalties.

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