Cyber Tax Scams Up 400% for 2016 Tax Season

Denise Dunn
| 3/28/2016
cybersecurity-blog-cyber-scams

Be alert! Cyber scammers are hitting taxpayers with a 400 percent jump in reported phishing and malware schemes so far this year, according to the IRS. Identity theft is the biggest priority for the IRS, but the agency also warns against phone scams, phishing, and malware schemes. Messages might arrive via email, text message, or social media. 

The IRS does not solicit personal information over email or text. Have you received an email from the IRS requesting personal information? It is definitely a scam. Many individuals receive official-looking emails from fraudsters purporting to be from the IRS or other tax-related entities, including software companies. These emails seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirmation of personal information, transcript orders, and personal identification number (PIN) verification, the IRS warns. Some scammers also want your Social Security number. 

Some email subject lines used in phishing scams mention numerous variations about tax refunds or updates for filing details. These are some examples:

  • Personal information confirmation
  • Get my Identity Protection (IP) or E-file PIN
  • Order a transcript
  • Complete your tax return information

Fraudsters are a much bigger threat during the tax return season. To avoid being a victim, do the following to protect yourself:

  • Never give your personal information to an unsolicited caller claiming to be an IRS official.
  • Never use the same password for your email account and tax service.
  • Never respond to emails that phish for personal information or appear threatening or urgent.
  • Never submit confidential information on forms embedded in emails.
  • Never click on and open links in emails from email accounts you do not know.
  • Never file tax returns over public Wi-Fi.

If you receive a suspicious email from the IRS, report it to phishing@irs.gov or call +1 800 829 1040. Do not respond directly to the email.