By the Better Business Bureau, February 14, 2016
It is the time of year when tax filing is on most people’s minds.
It is, of course, also on the minds of scammers who pull out all the stops in an effort to trick taxpayers and tax preparers into giving them personal information. They are “phishing” in an effort to gain access to a prize catch: your money. The Better Business Bureau wants readers to be aware of scammers’ tactics so they don’t become another victim.
Fake IRS emails
Some taxpayers are receiving emails that purport to be from the IRS. These emails can be short and directly to the point, claiming that they are undergoing “slight changes in the filing process to make filing for your refund easier and to prevent unnecessary delays.” The message claims that the agency is updating their database and needs to verify your information. The kicker is this line: “We have sent you an attachment, open it and follow the steps to verify your profile.”
Clicking on the attachment will either download a virus/malware onto your computer or, in some cases, take you to a fake IRS website, where you are asked to plug in your personal information. Remember that you should never click on links or open attachments in emails that come to you unsolicited.
The IRS has a policy of only contacting taxpayers through the U.S. Mail. They never will initiate contact through an email. The very fact that this email comes to you is the absolute proof that it is a scam. Further proof is in grammatical errors within the wording of the message, and sometimes spelling errors. One recent scam email claimed to be from “IRS Service,” which is like saying it comes from the Internal Revenue Service Service. Such mistakes are frequently evidence of the message originating from outside the country, probably in a non-English speaking region.
Fake phone calls continue
Phony telephone calls that claim to be from the IRS are as predominant as ever. Though we have warned of this scam several times, because of the persistence of this scam it bears repeating: the calls are completely fake. The IRS won’t call you to tell you that you owe them money. Again, they will contact only through the mail. Scam callers can be aggressive in their approach. They may threaten you with law enforcement authorities and lawsuits. Hang up. They are thieves and liars and they want to scare you into giving them your money.
Here are some of the tricks being used in the calls:
Tax preparers scammed as well
The IRS has warned tax preparers that they are being targeted by scammers trying to get at their personal information. These bogus emails claim they are from the IRS, and updating their e-services portal information and Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs). These are attempts to capture the preparer’s user name and passwords, and client information. The IRS has stated that all such emails should be ignored and any links shouldn’t be clicked.
Guard your information rigorously and don’t become a victim of these IRS scammers. If you have questions or concerns, contact the BBB by calling (800) 856-2417, or visit its website at bbbinc.org.