The 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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, the agency said.