With the income tax season in swing, be on guard against what is likely to be increased activity by scammers looking to steal your confidential financial information, warns the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).“A lot of scammers will be ‘phishing’ taxpayers by sending e-mails that claim to be from the IRS,” the group said in a statement.
Such fraudulent e-mails often have an official-looking IRS or Treasury Department logo, and they often have a sense of urgency, the group said.
The IRS has posted actual examples of phony “phishing” IRS e-mails. One advises the recipient that he or she has a pending tax refund. The other is a bogus letter warning about fraudulent activity in the recipient’s banks account.
The agency also provides an example of how to tell if a Web site is really the IRS or a phony look-alike.
By responding to these e-mails or clicking on Web links inside them, you could be providing personal information that could be used to steal your identity. Consumer Reports Money Adviser offers additional information on protecting your identity.Both the NWC3 and the IRS point out that the IRS agency never uses e-mail to initiate taxpayer communications or to solicit detailed taxpayer personal information.
The IRS warns taxpayers not to respond if they receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing them to an IRS Web site. In fact, such e-mails should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org for investigation. If you’ve been victimized, you also should file a complaint with the federal government's Internet Crime Complaint Center.—Anthony Giorgianni