Tax Season or Fraud Season?
Last year (per Raymond James), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) saw a 60% increase in phishing scams that tried to steal money or tax data from individuals. The most common way for cybercriminals to steal money, financial account information, passwords, or Social Security Numbers is to simply ask for them by impersonating the IRS or other tax officials. In judging any contact you might receive, it is important to be aware of how the IRS does not operate.
The IRS does not:
Initiate contact by phone, email, text message or social media without sending an official letter in the mail first. This actually happened to me a couple weeks ago. I received a voicemail stating it was the Social Security Administration calling to say my Social Security Number may have been compromised. I marched right into Laura’s office and asked her about it. She told me they would likely not call and leave a voicemail (and that I should call the Social Security Administration to check). Whew! Blood pressure spike alleviated.
Call to demand immediate payment over the phone using a specific payment method such as a debit/credit card, a prepaid card, a gift card, or a wire transfer.
Demand payment (threatening you with jail time or a lawsuit) without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
Request any sensitive information online, including PIN numbers, passwords or similar information for financial accounts.
If you receive a suspicious email, text, or call, the IRS encourages you to forward the email or text as an attachment to email@example.com or call the IRS at 1-800-908-4490. For more information on IRS tax return fraud and prevention methods, visit irs.gov.
As always, please let us know your questions or comments.