With tax season over, scam season has begun and the IRS wants to be sure that you know they will never send you unsolicited e-mails or request identifying information about you a la PayPal scams. Because, you know, they’re helpful like that. Since many of you are waiting patiently by your mailbox (or bank statement if you E-filed for direct deposit) for your refund checks, it’s all that much more important to be on the lookout for these kinds of tricks hitting your inbox.
Protect yourself, little taxpayer, and know that the IRS is here to help make sure you don’t get scammed by unscrupulous impersonators:
The IRS does not send taxpayers unsolicited e-mails about their tax accounts, tax situations or personal tax issues. If you receive such an e-mail, most likely it’s a scam.
IRS impersonation schemes flourish during filing season. These schemes may take place via phone, fax, Internet sites, social networking sites and particularly e-mail.
Many impersonations are identity theft scams that try to trick victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to access their financial accounts. Some e-mail scams contain attachments or links that, when clicked, download malicous code (virus) that infects your computer or direct you to a bogus form or site posing as a genuine IRS form or Web site.
Some impersonations may be commercial Internet sites that consumers unknowingly visit, thinking they’re accessing the genuine IRS Web site, IRS.gov. However, such sites have no connection to the IRS.
IRS Spokesperson Jennifer Henrie-Brown gave us a few tips for avoiding scams and reporting sketchy e-mails to the Service to combat the spamming problem: “The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail and does not request detailed personal or financial information through email. If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site, you should not reply. Do not open any attachments or click on any links. Doing so may download malware that can damage your computer or allow remote access to your hard drive,” she told us.
What do you do if you get one of these weird, misspelled, bad-grammar-infested fake e-mails claiming to be from the IRS? “If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the IRS, or Web addresses that do not begin with http://www.irs.gov, you can relay that email to IRS mailbox email@example.com. IRS can use the information URLs and links in the suspcious emails you sent to trace the hosting Web site and alert authorities to help shut down the fraudulent sites.”
Suggested reading: Online Scams that Impersonate the IRS [IRS]