TAXES. SECURITY. TOGETHER.
The IRS, the states and the tax industry are committed to protecting you from identity theft. We’ve strengthened our partnership to fight a common enemy – the criminals – and to devote ourselves to a common goal – serving you. Working together, we’ve made many changes to combat identity theft, and we are making progress. However, cybercriminals are constantly evolving, and so must we. The IRS is working hand-in-hand with your state revenue officials, your tax software provider and your tax preparer. But, we need your help. We need you to join with us. By taking a few simple steps, you can better protect your personal and financial data online and at home.
Please consider these steps to protect yourselves from identity thieves:
Keep Your Computer Secure
- Use security software and make sure it updates automatically; essential tools include:
Firewall, virus/malware protection, file encryption for sensitive data
- Treat your personal information like cash, don’t leave it lying around
- Check out companies to find out who you’re really dealing with
- Give personal information only over encrypted websites – look for “https” addresses.
- Use strong passwords and protect them
- Back up your files
Avoid Phishing and Malware
- Avoid phishing emails, texts or calls that appear to be from the IRS and companies you know and trust, go directly to their websites instead
- Don’t open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is
- Download and install software only from websites you know and trust
- Use a pop-up blocker
- Talk to your family about safe computing
Protect Personal Information
- Don’t routinely carry your social security card or documents with your SSN. Do not overshare personal information on social media. Information about past addresses, a new car, a new home and your children help identity thieves pose as you. Keep old tax returns and tax records under lock and key or encrypted if electronic. Shred tax documents before trashing.Avoid IRS impersonators.
- The IRS will not call you with threats of jail or lawsuits. The IRS will not send you an unsolicited email suggesting you have a refund or that you need to update your account. The IRS will not request any sensitive information online. These are all scams, and they are persistent. Don’t fall for them. Forward IRS-related scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report IRS-impersonation telephone calls at www.tigta.gov.
- Check your credit report annually; check your bank and credit card statements often;
- Review your Social Security Administration records annually: Sign up for My Social Security at www.ssa.gov.
- If you are an identity theft victim whose tax account is affected, review www.irs.gov/identitytheft for details.
Publication 4524 (Rev. 9-2015) Catalog Number 48359Q Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service www.irs.gov
Turbo Tax Users - fraud to steal refund payments
The email contains multiple red flags, but solicits credentials from the recipient to verify their identity to ensure uninterrupted service and prevent illegal activity. The phishing emails contains an attached .HTML file opens the local web page that resembles a TurboxTax page and requests the User ID, Password, Email Address, Email Password, a Security question, and the security question answer. If the victim enters the information and hits submit, the information is sent to a malicious command and control server.
Be skeptical of unexpected and unprompted email communications. If you didn’t ask for it, then it is likely a scam.
Never download and open attachments claiming to be a “secure” way to login and verify your identity. This method is intended to bypass anti-phishing features in most modern browsers.
When in doubt, don’t click on a link in an email. Instead, open up a new browser window or tab and login directly.
Don’t Fall for New Tax Scam Tricks by IRS Posers
Though the tax season is over, tax scammers work year-round. The IRS advises you to stay alert to protect yourself against new ways criminals pose as the IRS to trick you out of your money or personal information. These scams first tried to sting older Americans, newly arrived immigrants and those who speak English as a second language. The crooks have expanded their net, and now try to swindle virtually anyone. Here are several tips from the IRS to help you avoid being a victim of these scams:
- Scams use scare tactics. These aggressive and sophisticated scams try to scare people into making a false tax payment that ends up with the criminal. Many phone scams use threats to try to intimidate you so you will pay them your money. They often threaten arrest or deportation, or that they will revoke your license if you don’t pay. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests, sometimes through “robo-calls,” via phone or email. The emails will often contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for you to reply.
- Scams use caller ID spoofing. Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legit. They may use online resources to get your name, address and other details about your life to make the call sound official.
- Scams use phishing email and regular mail. Scammers copy official IRS letterhead to use in email or regular mail they send to victims. In another new variation, schemers provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. All in an attempt to make the scheme look official.
- Scams cost victims over $20 million. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, has received reports of about 600,000 contacts since October 2013. TIGTA is also aware of nearly 4,000 victims who have collectively reported over $20 million in financial losses as a result of tax scams.
The real IRS will not:
- Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
- Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount that you owe.
- Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do:
- Do not provide any information to the caller. Hang up immediately.
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
- You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
If you know you owe, or think you may owe taxes:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you if you do owe taxes.
Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.
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