Texts, Emails and Phone Calls: Be Aware of these Phishing Scams

It goes without saying that taxpayers need to go to the greatest lengths possible to protect their personal information such as Social Security numbers. Doing so keeps thieves from committing identity theft and filing fake tax returns. However, all your protection measures can go right out the window if you fall for a tax scam.

We are looking at one type of scam in this blog…suspicious communication. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has included this type of fraudulent activity on their annual “Dirty Dozen” list, which is compiled annually and outlines common scams taxpayers might be faced with.

We have talked many times before about the IRS mostly using U.S. mail to communicate with taxpayers. Therefore, anything coming to taxpayers via text messages, email and the telephone is a red flag.

The IRS warns that fake text messages prompting taxpayers to click on links to enter information are becoming more common. Many times, the text says the information is needed for something related to economic impact payments or other relief funds related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These types of requests are also popping up on social media. The scammer hopes the taxpayer will click and enter all requested personal information. Do not click on these links! The IRS reports that the only time you will see text communication from them is when it is used as a second factor to authenticate user’s identity when they access online elements such as tools. This only takes place after the taxpayers has entered a valid login on the IRS website.

If you receive a suspicious text like this, the IRS asks that you take a screenshot of the text (including the date and time stamp) and email it to them at this email: phishing@irs.gov , be sure to include the phone number that the test was sent to.

Scammers also go “phishing” in the email pond. If something fishy looking (see what we did there? 😊) comes to your inbox… do not click on any of the links! The links will likely take you to unsecure websites where your privileged information is being requested. If you receive a shady looking email, you should forward it to the IRS using the same email provided just above.

Scammers are not above calling taxpayers to try and gain access to their information. This has been their tool of choice for many years now. Some have even figured out how to make the call appear to be coming in from the IRS on caller ID. Taxpayers who do strike up a conversation with the fake “agent” on the other end of the line are often told they will be arrested or deported, etc. if they do not share personal information so a “payment” can be made. The IRS will only ask to collect funds from taxpayers via U.S. mail. So, if you do get a fake call, hang up right away. Blocking the number that called you is also a good idea.

If you have questions about any type of tax scam or ways to protect your personal information, please reach out to H&M. We would be happy to assist you.