Now that tax time is coming around, I’ve noticed an increase in tax related scam emails in my inbox and spam folder. They come in various forms with different sender names and subjects, claiming to be important notifications about your taxpayer account, your tax refund, and new this year, your economic stimulus or bailout check.
By now, most savvy internet users have seen enough phishing emails to know what to do about them — ignore or delete them, or if you want to make a difference, report them — but for those of you who are new to phishing schemes and internet scams, here is a heads-up.
Some of the fake IRS e-mails I have received look like this:
|Your Stimulus Check||Your US Govt Bailout Check Instructions|
|Your Stimulus Check||Your Check Instructions for Govt Bailout|
|Your Bailout Check||Your US Govt Stimulus Check Instruction|
|Internal Revenue Service||Collect Your Refund|
|IRS||Important Notice From IRS|
|Internal Revenue Service||Notice from Department of the Treasury|
|Internal Revenue Service||Access your tax refund online|
|Internal Revenue Service||Taxpayer Advocate Service (Tax Refund)|
|Internal Revenue Service||Get Your Annual Tax Refund Now|
|Internal Revenue Service||Notice from IRS|
|Internal Revenue Service||IRS Notification – Tax Refund|
From the IRS website:
The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail.
- The IRS does not request detailed personal information through e-mail.
- The IRS does not send e-mail requesting your PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.
If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site,
- Do not reply.
- Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
- Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing Web site and entered confidential information, visit our Identity Theft page.
No matter how convincing the e-mail looks, do fall for it. Report it to the IRS.
How to report phishing, e-mail scams and bogus IRS Web sites
If you receive an e-mail or find a Web site you think is pretending to be the IRS,
- Forward the e-mail or Web site URL to the IRS at email@example.com.
- You can forward the message as received or provide the Internet header of the e-mail. The Internet header has additional information to help us locate the sender.
- After you forward the e-mail or header information to us, delete the message.
Contact the IRS by phone or U.S. Mail to inquire about your account if you believe it might be legitimate – it most likely isn’t. Remember: The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail.
For more information on how to identify and report suspicious emails, identity fraud, phishing schemes and tax scams, visit the page on How to Report and Identify Phishing, E-mail Scams and Bogus IRS Web Sites at the IRS website. View an example of an Economic Stimulus related phishing e-mail.
Please note: I am not a tax professional, nor am I affiliated with the Internal Revenue Service in any way. This information is presented here in the hopes that it might be helpful. If you have been a victim of a tax related scam, please contact the authorities for assistance.