I got a frantic phone call this week from a client who received an email from the IRS. The email from the "IRS" was a notice that she had to "pay a forfeit for not filling the income tax return prior to January 31". The email looked legit and had the IRS logo and color scheme. However, the email had typos and other inconsistencies. It was a scam known as “phishing,” attempting to trick you into revealing your personal and financial information. The criminals then use this information to commit identity theft or steal your money from your bank account.
I found these five key points from the IRS website regarding phishing scams.
1. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or social media channels to request personal or financial information;
2. The IRS never asks for detailed personal and financial information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts;
3. The address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Do not be misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or anything other than .gov. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on their site and report it to the IRS;
4. If you receive a phone call, fax or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. Report any bogus correspondence. Forward a suspicious email to email@example.com;
5. You can help the IRS and other law enforcement agencies shut down these schemes. Visit the IRS.gov website to get details on how to report scams and helpful resources if you are the victim of a scam. Click on "Reporting Phishing" at the bottom of the page.