You can’t even trust emails from the government anymore.
Look, no one likes tax season unless they’re getting back a significant refund. But for better or worse, we all do our civic duty and file our returns. We do our best to avoid making calculation errors, but sometimes they happen — just a part of being human.
That’s why the IRS has a system for reaching out to taxpayers in the first place. If you make an error, leave out info, or file something wrong, they’ll let you know so you can go in and fix it.
It isn’t perfect, but it works.
…Or at least, it did work until tax scammers usurped the process.
- In this newest scam, criminals send out a series of very convincing emails spoofed to look as if they’re legitimately coming from the IRS (they aren’t). The emails inform the filer that they need to make a last-minute change before their return can be finalized.
- The emails also contain a vague threat — make the change on the linked site (another fake spoof) or else your tax return will be deleted. In some cases, they also threaten the filer with legal action or charges.
- This is essentially designed to push people into exposing themselves through scare tactics. And unfortunately, it works — that’s why the IRS has an entire page dedicated to raising awareness about it.
- There are slight differences in the scam emails sender-to-sender. Some ask for the filer to confirm their Social Security Number (SSN), while others demand updated direct deposit or banking information.
- The most common version demands that readers send their debit card or credit card info. Once the scammer has this information, they can essentially go on a spending spree online. If you aren’t paying attention to your online banking transaction list, you might not even know until the following month.
- This scam isn’t entirely “new,” but what’s especially concerning is the fact that fake sites and spoofed emails are becoming so convincing. Without a significant amount of technical experience, it can be extremely difficult to spot the scams.
- The IRS wants you to know that you should NEVER open suspicious emails. Instead, forward them to [email protected]. The IRS does not send notifications by email (always by snail mail, although they may call you, too), so anything you receive “from the IRS” in your inbox is almost certainly a scam.
No matter how these emails sound, or what they threaten you with, you need to know that your first step should always be to call the IRS. No tax issue is ever so serious that you don’t have time to make that call and confirm legitimacy first.
Need to call the IRS today? Reach them at 1-800-829-1040.