Con artists are at work again, and this time they are disguising themselves as the IRS using unsolicited emails. They claim to be from the IRS, making up names, addresses, etc., and using IRS terminology and references, in the hopes of convincing you they are the real-deal. But beware — knowing how these scams work and how handle them could prevent you from being swindled out of your personal and financial information.
Typically, the IRS imposters claim on their emails that they need certain personal and financial information to either process a return, refund, or tax payment. Often they claim you are being audited. The email may seem like it came legitimately from the IRS, with icons, color, and text appearing to be genuine. These thieves will even include links or attachments in the email that actually link to the correct IRS site, all in hopes in convincing you they are the IRS. Keep in mind that the IRS never sends out unsolicited emails to taxpayers.
Basically, there are two ways these scams can collect your personal and financial information. First, malicious software may download onto your computer when you click on the email. The software’s mission is to search out and then send back to the crooks your personal and financial information contained on your computer or obtained through recording keystrokes. Second, if you respond to the scammer’s emails and requests, scammers can collect personal and financial information you provide to them.
Once the scammers obtain your personal and financial information, such as Social Security numbers, bank accounts, or credit cards, they will be used to commit identity theft. These crooks are out to empty bank accounts, run-up credit card charges, or use your identity for personal benefits. Furthermore, your identity can be re-sold to other crooks on the black market.
1. Whenever you see an email claiming to be from the “IRS,” don’t ever make the mistake to open it. Clicking to open that email could potentially unleash malicious software that can swindle out your personal and financial information. Just remember — The IRS does not ever send unsolicited emails to taxpayers.
2. Do not reply back to the email.
3. You should report the scam to the IRS at phishing@IRS.gov. By reporting the scam to the IRS, you make the IRS aware of them which helps to deter future scams.
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Vincent Mangiapane, EA
Federal Analyst, Taxbrain