IRS Phishing Scams and Cyber-Security

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The majority of people are all too familiar with emails that contain enticing subject lines. Unfortunately, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A popular new trend in phishing scams is for criminals to pose as IRS agents either offering refunds, or threatening collections if fines and back taxes aren’t paid. Some of these imposters even intimidate victims via telephone. The fraudsters threaten jail time if not immediately provided with personal credit card information to pay "back taxes."

If you receive emails or phone calls that appear to be from the IRS, office of the Taxpayer Advocate, bank employee, government, or collection agency, it is likely a phishing scam. The IRS and the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service will only contact you via paper mail.  Scam emails will try to catch your attention by claiming to contain information regarding your tax returns or a potential filing problem. The emails provide links, that when selected, redirect you to other websites that demand personal information.

Protecting yourself from these scams is the same as it is for all of your information security; keep physical files locked in a secure place and guard all digital information with a password, firewall, and anti-virus program. Regulate social media to ensure that no personal information is unintentionally posted. For example, don’t post the address of your newly purchased vacation home in sunny San Diego – your followers are not necessarily your friends. In addition to protecting personal information, review credit card statements and periodically request copies of your credit report to uncover any potential discrepancies.

If you do receive a phishing email about your taxes, don’t open it. Send it to the IRS at