IRS Issues Warning of Major Upswing in E-mail Tax Scams

After seeing phishing and malware incidents quadruple this tax season, the IRS issued a renewed warning to consumers to be wary of suspicious e-mails. They are designed to look like official e-mails from tax agencies, tax preparers, or tax preparation software companies and may ask for personal information related to refunds, filing status, transcripts, and personal identification numbers. Scammers then use the information to file false claims or steal the taxpayer's identity. These scams are also being sent via text messages.

"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 released the following data on recent trends in malware and phishing scams:

  • There were 1,026 incidents reported in January 2016, up from 254 reported incidents in 2015.
  • The trend has continued into February, nearly doubling the reported number of incidents compared to a year ago. In all, 363 incidents were reported from Feb. 1-16, compared to the 201 incidents reported for the entire month of February 2015.
  • This year's 1,389 incidents have already topped the 2014 yearly total of 1,361, and they are halfway to matching the 2015 total of 2,748.

Tax professionals are also seeing a rise in the number of bogus e-mails asking for their personal information and credential verification.

According to the original press release, "if a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS e-services portal or an organization closely linked to the IRS, report it by sending it to [email protected]."

Learn more about how to identify these false communications here: https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Consumers-Warned-of-New-Surge-in-IRS-Email-Schemes-during-2016-Tax-Season-Tax-Industry-Also-Targeted

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