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Finance

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Tax Filing Season Brings About A Surge in Scams and Fraud. 
Don’t Become A Victim. 

The 2019 tax filing season is quickly approaching. Unfortunately, that means an increase in scams.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a warning related to an increase in advanced, fraudulent activity. 

There has been a 60 percent increase in phishing emails attempting to steal taxpayer funds or tax-related information. 

The emails appear to come from the IRS and often demand payment. Many contain threats to seize tax refunds or file lawsuits if payment is not made.

At first glance, phishing emails are hard to detect because the message appears to come from a trusted source.  They will often use misleading emails addresses, stolen logos, and intimidating verbiage. The majority of the phishing emails employ intimidation tactics and attempt to create a sense of fear and urgency.  Many targeted victims reported emails that originated from “IRS Online”, contained attachments titled “Tax Account Transcript,” or subject lines named variations of “Tax Transcript.”  To the unsuspecting victim, it all seems perfectly legitimate.  

Taxpayers should also be wary of the contents of the phishing emails.  Many include hyperlinks to malicious websites or contain attachments embedded with malware or viruses.

Remember, never open an attachment from an email unless you are sure of the sender and the reason it was sent.  

Not all of these tax scams are executed via email. Victims have reported a significant increase in telephone scams as well. A common vishing (phone phishing) scam involves a caller claiming to be from the IRS or US Treasury Department. The caller then threatens with a lawsuit or seizure of bank accounts, social security card, and passport. Some have even threatened taxpayers with arrest if payment isn’t made immediately via debit card.

How Can You Protect Yourself From Scam Artists? 

  • Resist the temptation of clicking on a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. Even if it appears to be from a familiar sender, subtle variations in email addresses such as USTreasuryDept1@abc.com vs USTreasuryDeptl@abc.com should be looked for.
  •  Email recipients should look for any grammatical errors and spelling
    mistakes. Legitimate, professional organizations and agencies typically use spellcheck and proofreader solutions which ensure messages are sent error free.
  • Report unusual contact. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text, or through any social media network to request personal or financial information. The IRS also does not call taxpayers with threats of lawsuit or arrests.


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