IRS Phishing Scams
These days, we aren’t surprised to receive emails from almost anyone. Grandpa? Your grocery store? Your bank or credit card? We’ve received them all. It’s hard to be surprised by any sender, as email has become the preferred mode of communication for most individuals – and industries. It’s easy, quick, free, secure… But as many of us know, emails can do damage, too. These trusted business and personal contacts, if infected with a computer virus that transmits through email, can send innocuous-seeming emails that contain harmful links that can wreak havoc on any hard drive.
There is one sender in particular that you should ALWAYS be wary of – and that is the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email. Ever. They will not email you about your returns, request any detailed personal information, or send any requests for passwords, PIN numbers, or anything else. However, many emails from senders purporting to be the IRS are circulating today. In fact, a few of our clients have reported receiving such emails. The practice of posing as a legitimate entity such as the IRS and requesting personal and/or financial information from victims is a scam known as phishing.
Such fraudulent emails that claim to be sent by the IRS might say the recipient is entitled to a tax refund and include a link to a request form. Or, they will inform the recipient that they have evidence of fraud against their bank account or credit card and request the account information to try and “recover the funds.” While the information contained in the body of such emails may be alarming, and you may have the instinct to respond, protect yourself – do not EVER reply to such emails, open any attachments, or click on any links within the email, as they will likely contain viruses. If you do receive such an email, the IRS website states, “All unsolicited email claiming to be from either the IRS or any other IRS-related components such as EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payment System) should be reported to email@example.com.” Forward it there, and then delete the message. For more information from the IRS and to see samples of actual phishing emails taxpayers have received, please go to http://www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=179820,00.html.