Every tax-filing season, the scammers and ID thieves try to sucker people into providing personal and financial information through the use of phony e-mails.
The IRS receives thousands of reports every year from taxpayers who received emails out of the blue claiming to be from the IRS. Scammers use the IRS name or logo to make the message appear authentic in an effort to get you to respond and then to trick you into revealing your personal and financial information. The criminals use this information to commit identity theft or steal your money. It is a scam known as “phishing” and we do not want you to become a victim.
You should know that the IRS does not initiate contact with any taxpayer via e-mail or social media to request personal or financial information. If you should receive an e-mail claiming to be from the IRS or directing you to an IRS site, the first thing you should do is contact your CPA. But above all, DO NOT
- Reply to the message
- Open any attachments (attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer)
- Click on any links in a suspicious email or phishing website and enter your confidential information
Here are additional key points you need to know about phishing scams:
- The IRS never asks for detailed personal and financial information like PINs, passwords, or similar secret access information for credit cards, banks, or other financial accounts.
- The address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Do not be misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or anything other than .gov. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on the site.
- If you receive a phone call, fax, or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS, you should immediately contact your CPA before providing any information. You should do this whether you suspect the contact is legitimate or not. You can also contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you.
- You can help the IRS and other law enforcement agencies shut down these schemes. Visit the IRS.gov website for Reporting Phishing: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing to get details on how to report scams and helpful resources if you are the victim of a scam. You can report any bogus e-mails by forwarding a suspicious email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Identity Theft is a Growing Problem—When a taxpayer’s ID has been stolen, the IRS will issue the individual a special number with which to file a return. The victim gets a new one each year for three years to provide time for the taxpayer to correct the ID theft damage. In 2012, the IRS issued 250,000 of these special numbers and for the 2013 filing season it issued 770,000—an increase of more than 300%. That is why it is so important for you to protect yourself from the nightmare of ID theft.
To learn more about how to protect yourself from ID theft, visit the following IRS webpage: Identity Protection Tips http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection-Tips.