Phony IRS Emails: What to Look Out For
Beware of emails with attachments, either wanting information regarding a potential refund or requests for personal information.
The number of phony IRS emails circulating the inboxes has jumped considerably since the beginning of the 2016 tax season, when 1,026 instances of fake emails were reported, compared to 254 in the previous season. These scams often use fake IRS websites that seem legitimate in order to fool you into sharing valuable personal information that could be used against you in a number of ways. Avoid falling prey to these cons by implementing safety measure like DFNDR Security’s Anti-Hacking feature.
This feature protects you from phishing scams and fake websites designed to rip you off, while also warning you about dangerous websites before you even click on them, especially nested in emails.
As you navigate through tax season this year, watch out for these signs of an “IRS” email that may be fraudulent.
What These Emails Look Like
These emails were created to trick taxpayers into believing they are real messages from the IRS or tax software companies. They fool you by asking for personal information in relation to phony refunds, your filing status, the confirmation of personal information, verifying PIN information or ordering your previous tax transcripts.
These fake emails often have links that take you to websites that appear to be legitimate sites, including IRS.gov. The site will then ask for personal information, like your Social Security number, your bank account, and routing numbers, as well as other information that could lead to identity theft or fraudulent payments on your bank account. In some cases, these sites also carry malware, infecting your computer or phone and allowing cybercriminals to take over your devices.
What to Watch Out For
There’s a number of pieces of information that these scammers use to make their emails seem legit. One way they attempt to trick you is with a CP2000 notice that appears to be issued from an Austin, Texas address, which is where the IRS’ official offices are.
Some emails may also say the issue is related to the Affordable Care Act and information is requested regarding the most recent year’s coverage. Another tell-tale sign is if the email number is listed as 105C. Always keep your eyes open for requests for checks to be made to the I.R.S. and sent to the “Austin Processing Center” at a post office box. That is a definite clue of a scam.
I Received a Phony IRS Email, What Do I Do?
The most important thing is to not reply to a fake email if you get one. Do not open any attachments or click on any links as these may have malicious malware that will infect your computer or smartphone. Make sure you don’t give out any personal or financial information and forward the email to report that you may have received a scam email to email@example.com. Then, promptly delete it.