Officials warn of new IRS email scam this tax season
Posted February 18, 2016
With tax day just two months away, IRS officials are warning of a new surge of email scams.
In a press release, the IRS said that they have seen a 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season.
Authorities said that 1,026 phishing and malware schemes were reported in January, which is an increase of 254 over last year. So far, in February, 363 incidents have been reported, compared to 201 incidents reported for the entire month in 2015.
The emails are designed to trick tax payers into thinking they are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The emails ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics including information related to refunds, filing status, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.
Variations of the scams that use text messages have also been reported around the country.
“The dramatic jump in these scams comes at the busiest time of the 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.”
When people click on the emails, they are redirected to sites designed to imitate IRS.gov and are asked to supply their Social Security number and other personal information. The sites frequently carry malware, which can infect computers and allow criminals to track files or keystrokes to gain additional information.
Locally, Rolesville police said that a number of residents have reported being the target of an IRS phone scam.
Rolesville police said that callers claim to be from the IRS or U.S. Treasury Department and tell victims that they must immediately pay money they owe to the government via credit card, pre-loaded credit card or wire transfer. Those who refuse are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of their driver’s license, and some victims reported that the caller claimed police were en route to their house to make an arrest.
Wake Forest authorities have also received several reports from people who were the target of the phone scam. They reminded consumers that the IRS never asks for credit card information over the phone and never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method. Taxpayers will typically receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action if money is really owed.
Authorities said that anybody who is the target of one of these calls should hang up and contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 and contact the Federal Trade Commission.
“While more attention has focused on the continuing IRS phone scams, we are deeply worried this increase in email schemes threatens more taxpayers,” Koskinen said. “We continue to work cooperatively with our partners on this issue, and we have taken steps to strengthen our processing systems and fraud filters to watch for scam artists trying to use stolen information to file bogus tax returns.”