It’s the most wonderful time of the year … for scammers. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry are warning taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams at this time of year. The call follows what the IRS refers to as “a surge of new, sophisticated email phishing scams.”
“The holidays and tax season present great opportunities for scam artists to try stealing valuable information through fake emails,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Watch your inbox for these sophisticated schemes that try to fool you into thinking they’re from the IRS or our partners in the tax community. Taking a few simple steps can protect yourself during the holiday season and at tax time.”
Phishing scams are on the rise. In 2018, the IRS noted a 60% increase in bogus email schemes that seek to steal money or tax data. That marks a dramatic change: Reports had declined for the previous three years. In terms of numbers, more than 2,000 tax-related scam incidents were reported to the IRS from January through October, compared to approximately 1,200 incidents in all of 2017.
In a typical phishing scheme, scammers attempt to obtain sensitive personal, financial or tax information such as usernames and passwords by pretending to be another person or entity. The emails may appear to be legitimate by using spoofed email addresses and stolen logos to trick the recipient into believing that the email is from a trusted source. Typically, the emails contain hyperlinks that take users to a fake site or PDF attachments that may download malware or viruses. These phishing schemes can endanger a taxpayer’s financial and tax data, allowing identity thieves a chance to try stealing a tax refund.
As a reminder, the IRS will never:
– Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
– Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
– Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
– Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
– Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
If you have any questions about any IRS related email or phone call please contact the IRS at (800)829-1040.
Article modified from original published on Forbes.com. To view the original article click here.