IRS “Dirty Dozen” tax scams — phone and email fraud

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Mar 072016
 

1. Phone tax scams top the IRS’ so-called “Dirty Dozen” for this filing season. Read the full article for what to do and not to do.

Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, headlining the annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams for the 2016 filing season, … The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season.

Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.

Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

2. Email tax scams … The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season. Read the full article for what to look for in these scams.

The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. E-mails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.

When people click on these email links, they are taken to sites designed to imitate an official-looking website, such as IRS.gov. The sites ask for Social Security numbers and other personal information. The sites also may carry malware, which can infect people’s computers and allow criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information.

Tax scams — email phishing

 Computer  Comments Off on Tax scams — email phishing
Feb 202016
 

Tax scams are nothing new. The digital age has made such scams even more common. So, I received a phishing email message today claiming to be from “irs.online.services@irs.gov” with “Update Your E-file Records For 2015 Tax Return” as the subject. A detailed examination revealed that the message was not in fact from the IRS (no surprise) and contained a (malicious) link to probably a hijacked web site in Spain:

http://www.[removed].es/themes/default/img/irs/irs/irs/irs/irs/irs/irs/irs/i=rs/irs/IRS.html

Here’s the (plain text) content:

This is an automatic message by the system to let you know that we are yet to confirm your account information ,You need to confirm your account information within 24 hours. Your account has been deactivated , Kindly click the link below to Activate your E-file Records for 2015 Tax Return.

Failure to do this would result in delay/refusal of your refund.
Activate Your E-file Records For 2015 Tax Return

Sincerely,
Internal Revenue Service.

Why should you be immediately suspicious if you receive such an email message? As pointed on on this IRS web page:

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

Phishing is a scam typically carried out through unsolicited email and/or websites that pose as legitimate sites and lure unsuspecting victims to provide personal and financial information.

This USA Today article summarizes the increase in electronic scams:

Email and texting scams designed to trick U.S. taxpayers into providing personal data have surged 400% so far this year, the IRS warned Thursday in a renewed consumer alert.

The schemes involve so-called phishing messages designed to trick taxpayers into believing the emails and texts represent official communications from the IRS, tax software companies or others in the tax industry.

These scams take many forms. Standard advice: Do not reply, do not open any attachments, do not click on any web links, delete the message. Note that many modern, simplified email apps make checking links problematical — checking the actual addresses of links in such messages.