The Internal Revenue Service is warning email users of a new scam targeting taxpayers and tax professionals. The scheme uses “phishing,” a tactic in which an impostor posing as a legitimate entity lures people to hand over their personal data, including financial information.
As you can imagine, things could get ugly quickly, especially if those bad actors gain access to banking and credit card information, and even passwords.
According to the IRS, this is what to look out for:
The phishing email subject line reads: “Internal Revenue Service Email No. XXXX | We’re processing your request soon | TXXXXXX-XXXXXXXX”. The email leads taxpayers to sign in to a fake Microsoft page and then asks for personal and financial information.
More than 900 complaints have come in about the scam, which seems to only target Hotmail users, the IRS said. “The suspect websites associated with this scam have been shut down, but taxpayers should be on the lookout for similar schemes.”
What to do if you suspect you’ve received a phishing email
The agency said that if you have gotten any unsolicited emails that claim to be from the IRS, people should forward the correspondence to this email address — firstname.lastname@example.org — and then delete it. The agency stresses that it typically doesn’t reach out to taxpayers via email and certainly wouldn’t ask for any personal information if it did. Here are three ways to avoid getting scammed:
- If you get an unsolicited email, don’t open any attachments
- Install a personal firewall and make sure it is updated regularly
- Make sure you have a spam filter set up
Tax preparers are asked to be on guard against free offers sent via email and other tricks used by fraudsters who want to gain access to client databases. As the tax season nears, the IRS expects cybercriminal activity to be on the rise. “Tax professionals who have data breaches should contact the IRS immediately through their Stakeholder Liaison, the agency said on its website.
More IRS scams to look out for
Here are some more resources on IRS scams to be on the lookout for as tax season approaches.
- The fake IRS phone scam is back!
- Beware of these common IRS scams
- This free app blocks IRS scam phone calls