Police departments across the Nation are advising citizens of a disturbing trend in phishing email scams whereby identity thieves impersonate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in efforts to obtain personal financial information from taxpayers.
Over the past several years, various forms of this deceptive email scheme have been circulated on the Internet, but this identity theft tactic is becoming alarmingly popular. The most common IRS email scam claims to be from the IRS and notifies the taxpayer that he or she qualifies for a tax refund and instructs the taxpayer to open an attachment or click on a link to access a refund form.
The latest variation of this IRS email hoax claims to be from the IRS and informs the recipient that the IRS has rejected his or her electronic tax payment. The email instructs the taxpayer to open an attachment or click on a link to access a form to rectify the problem.
By opening the attachments or clicking on the links contained in these phishing emails, the taxpayer unknowingly downloads a virus which enables identity thieves to collect confidential information about the taxpayer (e.g., credit card numbers, online banking login information, social security numbers, birth dates). This fraudulently obtained information is then used by the identity thieves to access the victim's bank accounts and obtain credit cards, loans, and other benefits in the victim's name and at the victim's expense.
If you receive an email from the IRS requesting personal information, do not become a victim of identity theft. Do not click on any links contained within the email. Do not open any attachments. Do not send an email reply to the sender.
These emails look official (see sample email here), but the IRS never contacts taxpayers by e-mail. If the IRS must contact you regarding a tax matter, it will always do so by way of traditional mail.
- IRS Resources, What To Do If You Receive a Suspicious IRS-related Communication
- IRS Newswire, IRS Warns of Email Scam About Tax Refunds
- IRS Resources, Suspicious Emails and Identity Theft
- Anthony Holloway (Columbus Dispatch), IRS Warns of Email Scams That Seek Info
- Chris Cifatte (WINK News), New Email Hoax Hitting Southwest Florida Claims To Be From IRS