What is the IRS Email Scam
IRS offers users tips on how to avoid fraud
There is an endless barrage of scams and the schemers have made it come in all shapes and sizes, making them a lot harder to expose. While we should all know that a popup on someone else's website warning of alleged threats is completely fake, more and more attackers are choosing to think outside the box. Unfortunately, scams are pretty complicated and well thought out, and less experienced users - those who have not dealt with scams in the past - could be pushed around.
We are now in tax season and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning us again to be careful of IRS scams. Whether you want to know what a phishing email looks like or identify IRS scams, we are sure you will find useful information in this report.
How does the IRS communicate with taxpayers?
If you can only find one thing in this report, please note that the IRS is NOT a taxpayer e-mail , SMS or Social media contacted. This is a very important thing to remember. If you ever receive a suspicious email, text, or message through any of your social media platforms, it should not be paying any attention to it. If you are concerned about the news you are getting, contact the IRS directly. You can find out about your contact options here. Responding to fake IRS scam messages can lead to real ramifications. For example, your virtual identity could be exposed and attackers could use the information they collect to impersonate you. If you think this isn't a big deal, then you need to think again.
According to the IRS, there were 60% more phishing scams in 2018 than the previous year, and these IRS scams were primarily set up to steal tax refunds and collect private information. 2,000 cases of IRS fraud have been reported, and while this may not seem like much, it's hard to tell how many taxpayers have been deliberately scammed but had nothing to report.
This is what a phishing email looks like
As you now know, the IRS is not going to contact you via email, and that means that any messages that are supposed to be sent by the IRS should be ignored. It is recommended that you remove these messages without thinking about it. Unfortunately, they can use subject lines that like IRS Important Notice or IRS Taxpayer Notice look, and less experienced users might be tricked. According to the IRS, in most cases, these scam emails inform the recipient that they will have to pay if their tax refund is not to be seized. Of course, the message depends on the sender, and they could use all sorts of false information and tactics to deceive people. These are the things that you need to be vigilant about in order to avoid IRS scams.
- IRS doesn't send emails.
- The links and file attachments sent via fake emails should NOT be opened as they can aid malware execution or redirect to IRS scam websites.
- The language in scam emails can be both professional and non-professional. Hence, you shouldn't assume that the message is legitimate just because it looks / sounds like it.
- The email address may look legitimate (e.g. [email protected] ), but this is not an indication that it is legitimate.
Now that you know what a phishing email looks like, you should immediately forward it to [email protected] This helps the IRS deter schemes from attacking others!
IRS scams aren't the only threat to think about
The schemes look for every security door they can find. For example, you could try to get access to your IRS account. Note that you should only log into your account through the irs.gov page. Fake websites could be created by schemes to deceive you and trick you into disclosing login and other private information. It's also important that you set a strong password for your account. If you don't know what a strong password is, and you're unsure that you can remember one (note that ALL passwords should be fairly random, long and contain symbols, numbers, and letters), you can using one tool will do anything for you.
You also need to keep in mind that there can be many different forms of IRS fraud. As you may already know, fake online forms and freebies are widely used to gather information. This information may result in your full name, date of birth, address and telephone number being displayed. With this data, schemes could try to make false calls. IRS phone scams are quite common and schemes could use them to direct you to fake pages, unnecessary payments, and leaking private information!
It is also important to think about malware. A keylogger is a type of malware that can be used to record mouse clicks or screen keystrokes, as well as keyboard shortcuts, in order to capture information without your knowledge. For example, if you use your IRS account to digitally submit tax refunds, you may enter your password, banking information, full name, and any other private information. When a keylogger is active, all of this data can be recorded and used to steal your virtual identity. Because of this, anti-malware software needs to be active at all times, no matter what type of device you are using.
In summary ... You know what a phishing email looks like, and you know IRS scams exist. While they can be intimidating, there is no need to panic as it is not that difficult to protect yourself from intriguers. All you need is caution and, when you are ready, the help of some tools.
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