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Reminder to watch for Phishing Email Schemes

March 22, 2017

As we progress through the remainder of the filing season, remember that individuals and tax preparers must always guard against identity theft by protecting personal, financial and tax information. This includes taking steps to protect their computer systems.

Identity thieves frequently use phishing emails in an effort to obtain information or take over computers. These types of emails appear to be from a familiar organization such as a bank, credit card company, the IRS or a State tax agency. These ruses usually urge taxpayers to give up sensitive personal data, financial data or passwords.

These types of scams usually will ask the recipient to verify information by clicking on a link included in the email. Once the individual clicks on the link they are taken to a website and asked to enter their personal information. Once the recipient types in the information the scammer now has their information and can use it to commit tax identity theft. Clicking on link may also allow malware to be downloaded which may lead to the scammer gaining access to all the information on their computer.

Everyone should learn to recognize phishing emails and to avoid becoming a victim of these scams you should never open an attachment or click on a link in an email from a source you do not recognize or are suspicious of.

Some recent examples of phishing schemes to be aware of:

  • Scammer poses as taxpayer asking the tax preparer to make a last minute change to their refund destination. Preparers should verbally confirm information with a client should they receive a last minute email request to change an address or direct deposit account for refunds.
  • Taxpayer receives an email that appears to be from their tax software provider asking them to update online account information.

Besides being on the lookout for phishing emails, taxpayers and tax preparers should do the following to help protect themselves:

  • Use strong passwords and do not use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Set passwords and encryption protections for wireless networks.
  • Use security software for all devices that connect to the internet.

For more information on how combat identity theft and protect yourself see the following on the IRS website:

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Important Upcoming IRS Update to e-Services Accounts
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Warning to Tax Preparers of New Phishing Scam that is Attempt to Steal Passwords
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IRS Security Summit Launches “Don’t Take the Bait” Education Campaign Aimed at Tax Preparers
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IRS Announces Which ITINs Will Be Expiring at End of 2017 and That They Are Now Accepting Renewal Applications
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