Refund scams: With tax season approaching, it is now normal to expect criminal activity targeting tax refunds. Criminals can obtain personal information on you from a variety of sources, including your unwitting tax preparer. The Information Security Office encourages you to file your taxes as early as possible to reduce the chance of criminal elements filing for refunds before you do.
Phishing: It is also normal to expect an increase in phishing emails and attempts to lure you into inadvertently installing computer viruses. Use caution when clicking Web or email links or opening attachments related to tax returns. The IRS does not initiate any contact with taxpayers by email, text, or social media.
Many of the messages will have an urgent tone in the subject line and contents. Here are a few examples of subject lines based on those received in previous years:
- Final reminder: Tax Refund Notification
- Your 2017 – IRS Tax Refund Payment
- Your IRS tax bank transfer is not approved.
- Income Tax Refund REJECTED
If you receive an email that appears suspicious, send it to email@example.com. Do not click on the links or open attachments.
Phone Scams: Always be cautious about providing your personal information over the phone, especially to individuals who initiate the call. In such cases, always offer to hang up, verify the nature of call, and to call them back at a number they provide. Do not rely on the caller ID information. Instead, seek out the organization’s official number and contact them directly. If you suspect attempted fraud or fall victim to a scam, contact your local law enforcement.
The IRS has recognized tax related fraud as a problem and has published several articles on their Security Awareness Tax Tips site at https://www.irs.gov/uac/IRS-Security-Awareness-Tax-Tips. Share the tips with your family, friends and even your tax preparer! If you fall victim to tax fraud, contact the IRS right away.