Beware of Tax Scams and Fake IRS Emails

The IRS categorizes any email scam that involves tricking victims into revealing private personal and financial information over the Internet as "phishing". Every year, the IRS alerts taxpayers to the latest versions of these email scams

The Latest Email Tax Scams

One of the latest scams involve emails that appear to be from the IRS. They include a link to a fake website that looks like the official IRS website. These emails instruct the reader to "update your IRS e-file immediately.”  by clicking the link and entering their information in the website that opens. The emails mention IRSgov and USA.gov, but not IRS.gov (IRS-dot-gov). Please be aware that these emails are NOT from the IRS. Anyone who gets these types of emails should not respond to the email or click on any links in the email.

Another recent scam is intended to fool people into believing they are under investigation by the agency's Criminal Investigation Division: An email purporting to be from IRS Criminal Investigation falsely states that the person is under a criminal probe for submitting a false tax return to the California Franchise Board. The email seeks to entice people to click on a link or open an attachment to learn more information about the complaint against them. DO NOT click the link in the email or open the attachment. The link and attachment is a Trojan Horse, which can take over a computer hard drive and allow someone remote access to it.

Similar email variations suggest that a customer has filed a complaint against a company and the IRS can act as an arbitrator. There are versions aimed at business taxpayers as well as individual taxpayers.

Other fraudulent email scams entice taxpayers to click their way to a fake IRS Web site and ask for bank account numbers. Another widespread email tells taxpayers the IRS is holding a tax refund for them and asks for financial account information. Still another email claims the IRS 'anti-fraud commission' is investigating their tax returns.

Fighting Email Tax Scams

The IRS does not initiate contact by email. Additionally, the IRS never asks people for the PIN numbers, passwords, or other access information for their credit card, bank, or other financial accounts.

The IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) work with the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and various Internet service providers and international CERT teams to have the phishing sites taken offline as soon as they are reported.

What Should I Do?

Recipients of questionable emails claiming to come from the IRS should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the emails. Instead, they should forward the emails to phishing@irs.gov.

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, please contact the IRS Identity Theft Hotline at 1-800-908-4490.

More information on tax return fraud

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