Identity theft is a big problem, especially during tax filing season. Thieves use a technique called “phishing” to try and capture your personal information. Phishing is the use of fake emails or phone calls to confuse taxpayers into sharing vital information with the thief.
Remember, the IRS does NOT send information to taxpayers through email and does not initiate audits or lawsuits through the phone. These emails and phone calls seem very real, but they are fake. Any email “from the IRS” is fake and should be deleted immediately. Any phone call “from the IRS” stating you are being sued for tax penalties is a scam.
Some email scams look like they were sent by a real person from a real school/university and simply ask you to open a pdf file. Delete these emails immediately.
Complaints may be filed with your state’s attorney general (Nebraska’s contact information can be found here – https://ago.nebraska.gov/).
Be wary of anything suspicious. If you have any concerns please let our office know. Thanks and let’s have a great tax season!
IDENTITY THEFT IN THE MAKING: HOW ID IS STOLEN
Common ways to obtain personal information include email or telephone phishing and Dumpster diving. Thieves are looking for “discarded tax returns, bank records, credit card receipts or other records containing personal and financial information” (FS-2008-9 (January 2008)). For example, some taxpayers receive email messages allegedly from the IRS advising them that they are under investigation or have a refund pending. To get the victim to respond, the email may threaten a dire consequence (see Exhibit 1 for a typical phishing message). Often, the recipient is asked to click on a link to access what appears to be—but is not—the legitimate IRS website.
The IRS does not send unsolicited, tax-account related emails to taxpayers and never asks for personal and financial information, including PINs and passwords, via email. The IRS advises that “[s]ince the IRS rarely contacts taxpayers via e-mail, and never about their tax accounts, taxpayers should be cautious about any e-mails that claim to come from the IRS” (FS-2008-9). (People receiving a suspicious email from the IRS are encouraged to report the email by calling the IRS at 800-829-1040 or forwarding the email to firstname.lastname@example.org; note in Exhibit 1 how the email uses “irs.org” not “irs.gov.”)
Exhibit 1: Sample of Phishing Email
Title/Subject of email: Your Tax Refund Payment Update
[attachment to email is “Refund Form.html”= link to webform]
After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $ 826.28
Submit the tax refund request and allow us 3–5 business days in order to process it.
A refund can be delayed for a number of reasons. For example submitting invalid details which we don’t have on record or applying after the deadline.
Download, fill and submit your Tax Refund Form in order to complete the process.
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