With U.S. taxes due on April 18, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently warned both taxpayers and the tax industry via a press release that it has seen a 400% increase in reported phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season. Similar scams via text message and telephone calls have also been reported.
The IRS also announced that more than 700,000 taxpayer accounts were access in the May 2015 IRS system breach, up from its original announcement of 114,000 accounts.
What to Look for in an Email Scam
Victims may receive an email claiming to be from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. These emails may ask taxpayers to update or provide important information via a link to a website that appears to be an official IRS website but is actually fake. In addition, some of these websites may contain malware.
The IRS has seen subject lines and underlying text that references the following:
- Inquiries or other statements about the recipient's tax refund
- Update your filing details, which can reference the W-2 form
- Confirm your personal information
- Get my IP Pin
- Get my E-file Pin
- Order a transcript
- Complete your tax return information
The IRS urges anyone who believes they may have received a fraudulent tax email to not click any links in the email and to forward the email to email@example.com.
What to Look For in a Telephone or Text Scam
Tax scams that happen via telephone call or text message often have common characteristics that you can look out for to identify a fake:
- Fake names and IRS badge numbers. Look out for common names and surnames.
- Scammers may know the last four digits of your Social Security Number.
- The IRS toll-free telephone number can be spoofed on caller ID.
- Telephone scammers may follow up with an email containing a link to a fraudulent website that is often malware-infected.
- Victims of telephone scammers may hear background noise that sounds like a call center.
- Scammers may threaten victims with jail time or driver's license revocation, then hang up and call back claiming to be the local police or DMV while also spoofing the numbers of these departments on caller ID.
For more information, see the IRS' resources on identity theft prevention and detection.
Verify Schedule K-1 Form Requests
ACA Aponix urges caution when responding to requests from purported investors, clients, or tax advisers for K-1 forms, as these requests may be fraudulent. Be sure to password-encrypt K-1 and 1099 documents when sending them to individuals, and do not distribute the password via email. We recommend that you use password-protected portals for transferring such documents.
ACA Aponix urges you to forward this email and the resources listed above to family, friends, colleagues, and staff. If you or someone you know has been the victim of identity theft or a fraudulent wire transaction, reach out to your local police department and/or the FBI for assistance.
Please reach out to us if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org