This tax filing season, e-mail phishing schemes have risen sharply, targeting taxpayers and tax preparers, leading the IRS to practice caution with emails containing links that trick taxpayers into beleiving they've received legitimate communication from the IRS or others in the tax preparation profession, including tax software companies such as Intuit and H&R Block. These emails seek information related to filing status, refunds, personal information, verifying PINs and ordering transcripts.
These scams, which have been reported across the nation, are up 400% according to the Internal Revenue Service. Impostors asking for personal tax information can potentially use it to file false tax returns. People are warned not to click on any suspicious emails that may carry malware, which is used to infect computers and allow these cyber criminals to access files and information. Some links even direct unsuspecting consumers to sites that are virtual doppelgangers of official websites such as IRS.gov.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen recently warned "Watch out for fraudsters slipping these official-looking emails into inboxes, trying to confuse people at the very time they work on their taxes. We urge people not to click on these emails."
The tax industry, IRS, and others are working together to alert citizens about the dangers of
phishing. Because the IRS does not generally initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request information, if you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS or a tax preparation service, report it by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org.