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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service renewed a consumer alert for e-mail schemes after seeing an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season.
The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. E-mails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.
Variations of these scams can be seen via text messages, and the communications are being reported in every section of the country.
"This dramatic jump in these scams comes at the busiest time of tax season," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "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."
WASHINGTON — Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but now the IRS is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information over the phone.
The latest variation being seen in the last few weeks tries to play off the current tax season. Scam artists call saying they have your tax return, and they just need to verify a few details to process your return. The scam tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information, such as bank numbers or credit cards.
“These schemes continue to adapt and evolve in an attempt to catch people off guard just as they are preparing their tax returns,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Don’t be fooled. The IRS won’t be calling you out of the blue asking you to verify your personal tax information or aggressively threatening you to make an immediate payment.”
We need your help.
The IRS, the states and the tax industry came together in 2015 to identify even more safeguards to protect your federal and state tax accounts from identity thieves.
Many of these steps are invisible to you but will help us verify the identity of the taxpayer and the validity of the tax return. There are new password standards for tax software. We’re doing a better job sharing information about identity theft schemes. (See Fact Sheet 2015-23 for details on our efforts.)
In recent years, we’ve also helped convict nearly 2,000 identity thieves thanks to our Criminal Investigation division and we have 1,700 open investigations.
All this means the IRS, states and the tax industry have formed an even stronger partnership in face of a constantly evolving enemy – the identity thief.
We are asking you to join with us. We have launched an awareness campaign in an effort to better inform you about the need to protect your personal, tax and financial data online and at home. People continue to fall prey to clever cybercriminals who trick them into giving up Social Security numbers, account numbers or password information. In turn, criminals use this information a variety of ways, including filing fraudulent tax returns.