As filing season approaches, the IRS has issued a warning regarding unsolicited phishing emails sent by scammers and cybercriminals to taxpayers. Phishing is a type of scam where someone poses as a trustworthy person or entity to obtain confidential or sensitive information. This kind of scam is not restricted to emails and may also come in the form of unsolicited text messages, phone calls, or faxes.
Phishing emails may contain dummy information to make them appear legitimate, including official logos and hyperlinks that are fake websites masked as real ones. These emails may also contain attachments that could contain malware or viruses that download when opened.
By presenting themselves as the IRS, scammers hope to obtain personal and financial information. In response, the IRS has suggested individuals follow these safeguards to protect themselves from suspicious emails:
- Do not reply to the email
- Do not open any attachment or click on any links from suspicious or unknown websites
- Use security software to protect your computer from malware and viruses
- Use a strong, unique password for all online accounts
The IRS does not contact taxpayers by email when requesting personal information. Should a taxpayer receive a suspicious email, the IRS asks them to forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other phishing scams may involve a taxpayer receiving a phone call from an individual claiming to be an IRS employee or a paper notice or fax with the IRS logo on it. If a taxpayer suspects these to be illegitimate, they should obtain as much information as possible from the caller, such as the employee's badge number or the notice number, and contact the IRS. The IRS will never contact a taxpayer by telephone to obtain personal information.