Guest Author - Kate Woods
So, you got an email from the IRS. Is it really from the IRS? I don't think so. There are an amazing number of email scams that have been perpetrated by outrageously bold scammers misrepresenting themselves as the IRS and contacting taxpayers for various reasons – all of them fraudulent. They are designed as phishing schemes to get information and the hard earned money of unsuspecting taxpayers. The IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) have indicated that the host sights located to date are in the United States and at least 27 other countries.
Some of the scams that have circulated include emails designed to trick people into believing that they are under investigation by the agency’s Criminal Investigation division of the IRS; another indicates that the IRS is holding an unclaimed refund for the taxpayer; one indicated that a fiscal calculation was completed and the recipient should click on a link to get their refund; another infers that the recipient is being contacted because they are being investigated for tax avoidance; one offers an incentive payment for completing a customer satisfaction survey; another implies it is from the Fraud Department and indicates that the recipient should complete an investigation form because of possible fraud they committed; and yet another indicates that the recipient is under investigation for submitting a false tax return to the California Tax Franchise Board. You have to hand it to those scammers, they certainly are creative people.
There are several things that all of these emails have in common. First they all ask the taxpayer to either click on a link or an attachment and/or they request information. They are all malicious. They are scammers tools such as phishing schemes and Trojan horses designed to steal personal information or to hijack your hard drive and remotely access it to steal or destroy information. The important thing to remember is that scammers are slick so you must resist the urge to satisfy your curiosity and do not click. When you receive them just think of them as a Pandora’s Box, and once opened the hateful spiteful creatures are released and are unable to be controlled.
At a seminar that I recently attended sponsored by Working Together, A Joint Effort of Public and Private Tax Professionals the representative from the Criminal Investigation Department of the IRS unequivocally stated that the IRS does NOT contact taxpayers by email.
This is also clearly stated on the IRS web site as well as the following:
The IRS does not send e-mails to taxpayers to advise them of refunds or to request financial information.
The IRS does not send out unsolicited e-mails or ask for detailed personal and financial information. Additionally, the IRS never asks people for the PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers through e-mail.
Recipients of questionable e-mails claiming to come from the IRS should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the e-mails. Instead, they should forward the e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org and (follow the instructions).
While it is very disconcerting to always have to be vigilant against these attacks, just as in Pandora’s saga, when the hateful spiteful creatures attacked they were followed by a beautiful sprite with gossamer wings called hope. So I have hope that a scam buster someplace somewhere is sprouting its gossamer silicone wings, but in the meantime –
Remember – Scammers are slick so resist the urge to satisfy your curiosity and -
Do Not Click!
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