IRS Warns of Email Impersonation Tax Scam That Delivers Malware Attack
The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warned taxpayers of a new tax scam. Even though it is not tax season, the warning is a reminder that tax scams can occur at any time of year. In this new tax scam, emails purporting to be from the IRS are sent in an attempt to trick the recipient into clicking on links in the email. If the reader does click on a link, malware is downloaded to the users’ device. The scam emails have been reported nationwide.
In this scam, taxpayers receive unsolicited emails prompting them to take action on their taxpayer online account. The emails are designed to look as though they are official IRS emails. A variety of subject lines are used including “Automatic Income Tax Reminder” or “Electronic Tax Return Reminder.”
The scam emails contain links containing text that are similar to names of official IRS and Treasury websites. They also contain supposed details of the taxpayer’s tax refund, electronic tax return, or tax account. The scam emails also contain a temporary or one-time password that is supposedly necessary to access tax records. The links lead to a malware download instead.
What is Malware?
Malware is any undesirable app, file, or program on an electronic device. Malware can include computer viruses, ransomware, spyware, keyloggers, and adware. Malware is used to steal information from the infected device. Usernames, passwords, account numbers, and other sensitive information can all be taken from computers, phones, routers and other hardware. Personal data is frequently used to steal money or gain access to other personal accounts.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when a hacker or scammer steals personal information and opens financial accounts, establishes medical records, accesses medical benefits, or acquires government new identification using the victim’s name. Hackers steal personal information like names, physical addresses, government identification, email accounts, tax records, or bank account details.
Stolen identity refund fraud can include using medical benefits in someone else’s name. The fraudster can accumulate unpaid expenses in the form insurance deductibles and unpaid co-pays.
How to Avoid a Tax Scam
The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media to request personal or financial information. This IRS does not request for tax account PIN numbers or passwords. IRS agents do not take payment over the phone and never ask for credit cards, bank account numbers, or other financial account information. When a tax bill is legitimately owed, the IRS does not demand that payment be in a certain form like prepaid debit cards. Gift cards are never an acceptable form of payment.
Keep in mind, the IRS never initiates contact via email or telephone regarding the status of tax refunds or other concerns. If you receive an email that seems to be a tax scam, do not click on any of the links. Notify the IRS by forwarding the scam email to [email protected] If there is an issue, a letter is always sent through regular US Postal Service mail.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers