The IRS is calling for taxpayers to be alert for scammers who may try to contact them by e-mail, phone, fax or regular letter, pretending to be from the IRS, according to an announcement on Wednesday.
The IRS warns that, “Many of these scams fraudulently use the Internal Revenue Service name or logo as a lure to make the communication more authentic and enticing." In the form of fake IRS e-mail, this is known as phishing.
The goal of these scams is to trick clients into revealing information such as numbers for bank or investment accounts, Social Security, credit card or PIN numbers, or other confidential information. Scammers use the information to commit identity theft, or to steal money from clients, the IRS said.
What to Do: Verify
Make sure clients know not to supply any personal information until they are sure a request is legitimate. The IRS wants taxpayers to know how to respond if they receive a suspicious call, email, fax or letter, and said this in its announcement:
- The IRS doesn’t ask for detailed personal and financial information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
- The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail and won’t send a message about your tax account. If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site:
• Do not reply to the message.
• Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
• Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit the IRS website and enter the search term 'identity theft' for more information and resources to help.
- The address of the official IRS website is http://www.irs.gov. Do not be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on the suspicious site and report it to the IRS.
- If you receive a phone call, fax or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. Report any bogus correspondence.
- You can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. Details on how to report specific types of scams and what to do if you’ve been victimized are available at http://www.irs.gov, keyword ‘phishing.’
If a client suspects that they have been contacted by a scammer, they can report them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to Instructions for submitting phishing e-mails to IRS.
For the full announcement with details from the IRS website, please go to: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=202394,00.html