Each tax season, unscrupulous individuals come out of the cyber-woodwork to prey on unsuspecting taxpayers. Unfortunately, 2011 tax time is no different. According to the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, a new IRS e-mail scam is circulating that can infect your computer with malware and viruses and even place your sensitive financial data in the hands of identity thieves.
The IRS does not sent personal tax e-mails
Dan Boone, an IRS media relations representative, told the Times-Gazette that the IRS never sends e-mails about specific tax returns.
“If you get an e-mail that looks like comes from the IRS and it looks like it has something to do with your personal taxes or business taxes, it’s a scam,” said Boone.
While there is not one specific IRS scam e-mail in circulation, there is a common theme. Identity thieves are phishing for social security numbers, bank account numbers or other personal information that will make it much easier to get their hands on your money or lines of credit in your name. Typically, the fraud e-mail dangles a refund due to the consumer but says the consumer must provide banking information on a special refund form in order to facilitate a “transfer” of funds.
“There is no refund form. Your tax return is your refund form,” said Boone.
How to handle an IRS phishing scam
If you receive an e-mail claiming to be from IRS.gov that asks for your personal information, do not click on any links in the e-mail or download/open any attachments, advises Boone. This can open up your computer to malware and viruses that can potentially steal sensitive data from your computer’s hard drive or record your keystrokes. Whether or not a link in an information-seeking IRS scam e-mail redirects a taxpayer to a website that looks like IRS.gov, the fact is that the IRS does not send taxpayers e-mails that require personal data.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to report fraud of any kind. Forward suspicious e-mails to phishing(at)irs.gov. Please note that a return receipt from the IRS will not be issued. For more information, consult IRS form IR-2006-49.