IRS warns that scammers may time e-mails to trick filers
Most people are aware that the April 15 tax filing deadline has just passed. The Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers this week that scammers are aware, too, and may send official-looking e-mails to phish for private information.
"The IRS doesn't ever send e-mails about your taxes," said IRS spokesperson Carrie Resch. "If you filed your tax return recently, don't let a scam e-mail trick you into thinking the IRS is contacting you about it."
Resch said 75 percent of Minnesotans e-filed their returns last year, and because electronic tax filing is so common, people may wrongly assume the IRS will contact them online about their taxes. But the IRS never sends private taxpayer information by e-mail and will never ask for it that way, she said.
"If you filed electronically, you probably will get a confirmation e-mail from your tax software company but not directly from the IRS," Resch said. "Still, scammers know the weeks following tax season are a prime time to target the huge pool of potential victims who just filed a return."
According to Resch, phishing is close to the top of the IRS' 2010 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams list and these scam e-mails often are very convincing. They may say that a review of your taxes has resulted in a refund they are trying to get to you, or they may threaten you with an audit or investigation if you fail to respond. They may even include your name and look authentic because they use graphics from the real IRS website and cite Internal Revenue Code or other official documents.
Resch also cautioned that clicking on links in scam e-mails or opening attachments may expose your computer to malicious code that will infect it.
Information at www.IRS.gov, keyword "phishing," tells taxpayers how to forward the scam e-mails to the IRS with the encoding still intact to assist the IRS in battling these scammers. Important information also is available for anyone who has responded to a scam e-mail by giving out private information.
Taxpayers are encouraged to read the entire 2010 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams list at IRS.gov to avoid becoming victims of or unintended participants in a tax scam.