3 Ways to Spot an IRS Phishing Scheme

In a previous article, I discussed the phishing “Tax Refund” email I received allegedly from the Internal Revenue Service. Despite the fact that it may have the IRS name, logo or website in an attempt to hydra tor convince us as taxpayers that it really is from the IRS, those phishing emails are not from the Internal Revenue Service. But how can we tell?

Very basically, the IRS will not discuss tax account matters with taxpayers by e-mail. So if you receive an email allegedly from the IRS wanting information or to discuss any information about a tax matter with you, you can be sure that it is not from the IRS. If you have any questions at all, then take a moment and call the IRS yourself and ask whether they sent out an email. You can start with 1-800-829-1040, which is the basic IRS Tax Assistance line. But be careful of anyone who calls you (as opposed to you calling them) saying they are from the IRS as they most likely are scammers as well. Always initiate the call yourself.

Personal or financial information can be requested from within the email itself or the email may direct you to click on a link to the (fake) IRS to provide the information. Either way, it will not be the IRS. Here are some ways to spot an IRS scam no matter how sophisticated they may be:

  • Emails that request detailed personal or financial information from you.

If you receive an email that asks for personal information such as your name or mother’s maiden name or financial information such as your bank or credit card account numbers and related passwords, watch out. The IRS never would send such an email.

  • Emails that offer something to get you to do something.

The IRS is not going to offer you a refund in order for you to fill out or give them information. Nor is the IRS going to “reward” you with payment if you participate in an IRS survey. Anything like that, where the IRS is going to do something in return for information from you, is bogus.

  • Emails that threaten you for not doing something.

In the same way that the IRS is not going to reward you if you provide information, they also will not threaten you if you do not give them information. If the email suggests that there will be additional taxes or they will keep your refund if you do not provide the information, be wary.

There are several other ways to tell that your email is not really from the IRS which I will discuss in another article. I will also talk about what to do if you receive such an email. But being aware is the best preventative medicine, so keep your eyes open and your finger off of the “provide information here” button!

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