E-mail phishing schemes targeting taxpayers and tax professionals have risen sharply this filing season leading the IRS to alert consumers to practice caution with emails containing links.
Phishing and malware incidents have risen about 400 percent so far this tax season, according to the IRS. Phishing emails trick taxpayers into thinking they have received official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry including tax software companies. The emails seek information related to refunds, filing status, personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PINs.
The scams have been reported across the nation, according to the IRS. Fraudsters asking for personal tax information could use it to help file false tax returns.
Tax professionals have reported phishing scams that seek their online credentials to IRS services such as the IRS Tax Professional PTIN System, according to a news release. Tax professionals are also reporting that many of their clients are receiving the email schemes.
Individuals are warned not to click on the emails that may carry malware used to infect people’s computers and allow criminals to access files and information. Some email links direct to sites that imitate official-looking websites such as IRS.gov.
“This dramatic jump in these scams comes at the busiest time of tax season,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Watch out for fraudsters slipping these official-looking emails into inboxes, trying to confuse people at the very time they work on their taxes. We urge people not to click on these emails.”
The IRS, state revenue departments and the tax industry are working together to educate taxpayers about the dangers of phishing emails. Remember, the IRS does not generally initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, report it by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more, visit the Report Phishing and Online Scams page from the IRS.