March 3, 2016
The IRS has issued an alert to taxpayers and tax preparers to be on the lookout for email schemes that attempt to obtain their personal and tax information by way of phishing or malware that is contained in an unsolicited e-mail. Incidents of this type have increased approximately 400 percent from last year.
It is important to keep in mind the IRS or State taxing agencies do not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
Phishing works as follows:
An individual receives an official looking email from what appears to be an official source such as the IRS or State tax agency. The underlying message frequently asks the individual to update important information by clicking on a web link. Once the individual clicks on the link they are taken to a webpage that appears to be an official page of the agency. These sites can also contain malware that can infect their computers and allow criminals to access their computer files or track their keystrokes to gain information.
The IRS is urging individuals to not click on links contained in unsolicited emails that ask them to update important personal and/or tax information. If they receive one of these e-mails they should forward it to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Examples of subject lines and underlying texts that the IRS has seen in these emails are:
Tax professionals are also reporting phishing scams that are seeking their online credentials to IRS services such as for E-Services or the IRS Tax Professional PTIN System.
To get more information on phishing scams and how to report one see the following on the IRS website: