- What is an IRS Phishing Scam?
- IRS Phishing
- Types of IRS Phishing
- How to Spot a Tax Phishing Scam
- How to Report a Phishing Scam
- Steps for Victims of IRS Phishing Scams
- Wrapping Up
What is an IRS Phishing Scam?The term “phishing” refers to a type of cybercrime in which scammers attempt to obtain sensitive information for malicious reasons. The various types of information hackers may attempt to steal include usernames, passwords, PINs, credit cards, bank details, and Social Security numbers. With respect to IRS phishing, scammers attempt to gain access to consumers’ financial information to steal their identity and/or assets.
IRS PhishingThe FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost $57 million to phishing schemes in just one year. Don’t get hooked by an IRS phishing scam; keep yourself informed about the increasingly prevalent number of con artists who try to impersonate the IRS in order to steal your identity or financial assets. Phishing scams have severe implications on victims’ tax standing, bank accounts, and personal information, leading to a long-winded trail of potential consequences. It’s imperative to learn about this practice, know how to keep a keen eye to detect a phisher, and understand what to do if you’ve been jeopardized.
Types of IRS PhishingGenerally speaking, an IRS phishing scam involves a hacker who attempts to cast a baited line to a targeted audience, hoping that someone will bite and fall for the trap. Con artists who phish will pose as legitimate institutions with the goal of luring individuals to disclose or reveal their sensitive data. Typically, IRS phishing scams occur over the internet and attack taxpayers by email, but scammers can also masquerade as someone else over the phone or through text messages, social media, and other various communication channels. Within an IRS phishing email, a scammer will usually pose as a reputable tax business or government organization to trick you into doing what they want. In most cases, this involves clicking a link that will take you to a fake website which requests your personal details. A tax phishing scam might threaten you with impending punishment or try to bait you with the promise of a huge return, but there are a wide variety of templates that IRS phishing emails may follow. Other common messages in fake emails include taxes associated with a large investment, inheritance, or property. IRS phishing is one of the most common forms of fraud, but cyber attackers might also initiate email campaigns that attempt to trick users into downloading and installing malware as well, so be cautious of any attachments.
Does the IRS Send Emails?No, they do not. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the IRS doesn’t send unsolicited emails, text messages, or social media messages to discuss personal tax issues. So, if you get a text or email that claims to be from the IRS, you can safely assume that it’s being sent by a scammer who’s trying to steal your information. In short, don’t respond to or open these messages, as they are never going to be legitimate.
How to Spot a Tax Phishing ScamAnyone can fall victim to IRS phishing scams; sophisticated hackers are constantly targeting tax professionals and amateurs filers alike. Before you divulge your confidential information to criminals who may steal your identity, rob your financial assets, or sell your personal details on the dark web, you need to learn how to identify phishing scams.
IRS Phishing Email ExamplesWhen hackers attempt to phish taxpayers by email, they generally claim to be from the IRS or another tax-related entity. Check to see whether their domain is valid for the U.S. government (i.e. “.gov”) before anything else. The headline typically includes a time-sensitive, urgent warning regarding the status of a consumer’s tax return to get your attention. Don’t be conned by this drastic threat or fooled by any branding which may look similar to the IRS website. Be wary of generic greetings, incorrect spelling, and incorrect grammar. Do not click or follow any hyperlinks or HTML attachments.
How to Report a Phishing ScamIf you’ve received a scam email claiming to be from the IRS, there are steps you can take to report it. Reporting phishing scams can help prevent others from falling victim to the same scheme. According to IRS.gov,you should report any unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related agency to email@example.com. In the case that you fell victim to a phishing scam and experienced monetary losses, you should report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) and file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) so that investigators have a record of your case.
Steps for Victims of IRS Phishing ScamsIf you’ve found yourself to be the victim of an IRS phishing scam, it’s better to act sooner rather than later. Begin by contacting the agencies named above—the TIGTA and the FTC—to make the information available to investigators. During tax season, the prevalence of IRS-themed or tax-themed phishing scams spike drastically, and it’s imperative to keep a watchful eye in order to keep your personal information secure. The best way to safeguard yourself against IRS phishing and tax scams is to enlist the help of the professionals at Community Tax. We offer tax scam resolution services to those who need to correct fraudulent activity, and we can file and monitor your return to make sure you’re never scammed again. After working with over 50,000 clients, we’ve encountered several IRS phishing scams and have the experience you need for the assistance you deserve. Don’t hesitate—contact us today to see how Community Tax can help.
IRS Contact InformationThose who think they may have spotted a tax phishing scam should follow the specific instructions on how to report it to the IRS.
- Forward phishing emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and delete the original email.
- If you receive a phishing phone call, report it to the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) and the IRS at email@example.com.
- If you receive an IRS phishing scam in the form of a letter or fax, report it to TIGTA and firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you suffered monetary losses as a result of a phishing scam, file a report at ReportFraud.ftc.gov and share the report with over 3,000 law enforcement officials.