It’s that time of year again: The IRS is imploring taxpayers to be on the lookout this tax filing season. (And, well, all year ‘round.) Scammers are hard at work looking to steal personal information through “phishing” schemes.
Phishing schemes — where criminals pretend to be a company or individual with whom their target is acquainted — remain a top concern on the annual IRS list of “Dirty Dozen” scams for the 2017 tax filing season.
Criminals have been targeting individuals involved in the tax preparation process, such as tax or payroll professionals, as well as the taxpayers themselves … and they’ll stop at nothing when it comes to identifying new ways to bait their victims.
One common scam is to send an email from what is believed to be a trusted source. That email, of course, is designed to infect the recipient’s computer with malware and grant the criminal access to all of the victim’s information. Criminals have even been known to create websites that appear to be authentic. Those fake websites have a log-in feature that collects passwords, Social Security numbers and/or other vital information, compromising the unsuspecting victims’ private financial data and more. And it does that without the victim even realizing it is occurring.
With ever-evolving phishing schemes, taxpayers need to be vigilant and avoid opening unsolicited emails or clicking on any links claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social media to request personal or financial information.
To help mitigate risk, the IRS — working closely with state revenue departments and the tax industry — has produced resources as part of their “Taxes, Security, Together” campaign. IRS Criminal Investigation is also assisting the Department of Justice to aid in shutting down schemes and prosecuting the perpetrators.
If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be either from the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, report it by sending it to email@example.com. To learn more, please visit the IRS’ Report Phishing and Online Scams page or contact your Rehmann tax advisor.