Beware These Signs Of An Online Tax Scam

Jan 27, 2012

By Staff Writer State Farm™ Employee

As tax season starts, be alert for phishing emails that appear to be messages from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Scammers use email, websites and even social media to trick taxpayers into sharing personal and financial information, which they can then use to steal your identity. Meant to either frighten or entice, these fraudulent messages may threaten a tax audit or offer a tax refund.

But know this: The IRS does not generally send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers or request financial account security information, such as PIN numbers. Further, they will not discuss tax account information with taxpayers via e-mail or use it to request sensitive financial and personal information from taxpayers. 

Signs of a tax scam
Scams may appear legitimate and some may even use the IRS logo. Warning signs that you've received a fraudulent message include:

  • Requests for personal and/or financial information, such as your Social Security number and bank or credit card account numbers.
  • Tempting offers that might persuade readers to click on links or respond to messages.
  • Threats that suggest consequences for not responding to the email.
  • Incorrect grammar, spelling or phrasing—especially when referencing the IRS or other government agencies—and links to inaccurate URLs. Rather than relying on links listed in the message, manually type the official IRS website directly into your search engine address bar to follow up.

Reporting scams
If you receive an online message you suspect is a scam, the IRS suggests taking the following steps:

  • Do not open any attachments or links. These could lead you to a fake IRS website, where opening a link could download malware or allow someone to hack into your computer.
  • Ignore messages that offer a refund. Instead, go to the IRS's Where's My Refund? site to determine if you are actually receiving a refund.
  • Forward the message or web address to phishing@irs.gov.
  • Delete the message.

Learn more about scams that impersonate the IRS The IRS also provides additional information about precautions to take if you receive messages that appear to be from the agency.

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