The IRS reports that even though the April 15th tax filing deadline has come and gone, fraudulent e-mails purporting to be from the IRS are still running rampant. Here is what you need to know to protect yourself.
The typical scam starts with an e-mail message, complete with IRS logo and official-looking format, asking for information to fix a problem with your tax return. Scam artists, who are no dummies when it comes to IRS rules and lingo, will try to obtain your social security number, bank log-in information, or other personal data. With these items, they might re-direct your refund to themselves, access your bank account, or file a bogus tax return in your name and fraudulently claim a refund. And spotting a fake IRS notice is not as easy as it sounds. Scams such as these utilize sophisticated techniques and seemingly authentic tax forms to steal from people of all levels of financial sophistication.
But for all this trickery, protecting yourself is fairly simple. Don’t respond to any unexpected IRS e-mail. Ever. IRS agents will never initiate taxpayer contact by e-mail, and neither will they ask for your bank account password or ID number. Also, never click on any link or attachment until you know for a fact that it is from the IRS. If in doubt, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should also be on your guard against fake phone calls from the IRS. Don’t immediately accept that the caller is legitimate, and certainly don’t divulge personal information to the caller. Our best advice for any IRS-initiated contact is to call our office before you do anything. We can quickly determine if the problem is for real, and if it is, help you respond appropriately.