Phishers and Internet scammers are always coming up with innovative ways to separate victims from their money. One of their favorite tactics is to prey on victims’ fears about taxes by posing as the IRS, particularly around filing deadlines. Here are a couple of tax scams that, at first glance, might seem official, but don’t be fooled:
The “Underreported Income” Threat
This scam features an email accusing the recipient of having underreported their income. The sender attaches what they claim is a copy of the relevant page of their tax return. The “attachment” actually contains executable code that downloads a malicious file to the user’s machine.
The “Making Work Pay” Scam
This phishing email uses the Making Work Pay provision of the tax code to entice people into giving up their personal information. The email asks the recipient to fill out a form on a website so that the IRS can deposit money into their bank account. In reality, the Making Work Pay provision does not directly provide funds to taxpayers; instead, it gives wage earners a tax credit in the form of reduced withholding. This is nothing but an attempt by identity thieves to get your personal information.
The “Refund” Scam
This oldie but goodie promises the recipient a quick and easy tax refund if they provide personal information and details about their financial institution. Instead of getting a tax refund, the victim risks serious damage to their credit by identity thieves.
Note that all of these scams arrive by email. Many of them will direct the victim to a web page or form that looks official and credible. Don’t fall for it! The IRS never discusses official tax matters over the Internet–they use the U.S. Postal Service or telephone if they want to reach you. If you get an email that purports to be from the IRS, do not open any attachments or click on any links. Forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org, then delete the email. And if you have any doubt about an email’s legitimacy, you can always contact CMIT to get our expert opinion.