Beware of Scams During Tax Season

Published on January 7th, 2019

Surge in Phishing Scams During Tax Season

It’s the tax refund season and fraudsters are contacting consumers through e-mail. The perpetrators use multiple message variations in an attempt to fool taxpayers. The message appears to come from a trusted source – using spoofed or compromised e-mail addresses – and often contains stolen logos. In addition, the phishing e-mails typically include hyperlinks to malicious websites or contain attachments embedded with malware or viruses.

Many targeted victims reported e-mails had these characteristics:

  • E-mail originating from “IRS Online”
  • Containing attachments titled “Tax Account Transcript” or similar language
  • Subject line containing variations of the phrase “Tax Transcript”

In addition to e-mails, a significant volume of telephone scams have also been reported. A common phone scam involved a caller claiming to be from the IRS and threatening with a lawsuit or arrest if payment isn’t made immediately via debit card.

Here are some recommendations to mitigate risk:

  • The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail, text, or through any social media network to request personal or financial information. The IRS also does not call taxpayers with threats of lawsuit or arrests.
  • Do not click on a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. Even if it appears to be from a familiar sender, subtle variations in e-mail addresses such as john.smith1@abc.com vs john.smithl@abc.com should be looked for.
  • E-mail recipients should look for any grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Legitimate professionals typically use spellcheck and proofreader solutions which ensure messages are sent error free.

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