Tech Info

Tax Season Phishing Scams

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Tax season is one of the best lures for cybercriminals and in recent years, thousands of people have fallen victim to this form of scam. Here are some of the different scams affecting individuals, businesses, and tax professionals and what to do if you if you spot a tax scam as we are a week away from the April 18th filing date.

+ Last Minute Email Scams
This form of phishing scam consists of an email requesting last-minute deposit changes for refunds or account updates. This is an obvious attempt to gain sensitive data such as passwords, Social Security numbers and bank account or credit card numbers and you should not respond. If you do not know the source of this email, don’t open any attachments or follow any links asking you to submit your personal information.

+ Posing as an IRS Agent Scam
This email claims that a taxpayer owes a certain amount still on their taxes and that if they don’t respond or pay up in a day they’ll be fined heavily. This is a scare tactic used by cybercriminals in hopes that you’ll click the link they provide where you will be directed to a phishing page and promoted to fill out very sensitive data. Once again, do not click the link or even respond.

+ Subpoena From the IRS to Attend Court Scam
This email says something along the lines of “What should we do about the subpoena from the IRS? I’m attaching it, please call or email me after you look it over.” DO NOT OPEN THIS ATTACHMENT. Once again, the IRS would never send out a subpoena via email such as this and if you don’t know the sender, never open an attachment. 99% of the time it WILL be a virus or some form of malware. With this malware installed, cybercriminals can monitor your every action and freely download and install other malware to your computer.

+ IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scams
This telephone scam targets taxpayers and the person calling claims to be an employee of the IRS. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. They may also tell victims that they have a refund due and that they need private information to send that to them. Both of these are SCAMS.

+ Accountant Targeted Scams
Hackers know that accountants make lucrative targets during this time of year as well based on the fact that they are in high demand and that they are open to potential new clients, which means they will open emails from unknown recipients. The most common is an email titled something like “Tax Assistance Needed” which contains a document with that clients ‘tax information’ which is of course a malicious virus that will steal tons of valuable information from that business owner.

The following is taken directly from the IRS website at

“Note that the IRS will never:

* Will not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action.
* Initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
* Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
* Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
* Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
* Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.”

Phishing scams are constantly changing and becoming more aggressive every year so make sure that you are on your toes around this time of year and that you know who you are working with on your taxes. Be aware and never give out sensitive information over the phone or via email. If you have any questions regarding a possible scam or you think you may have fallen victim to something like this, please give one of our techs a call TODAY.