The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers about tax and information-stealing scams that continue to be reported around the country. Phishing, phone scams and identity theft top the list of items normally reported. However, following hurricanes and other disasters, the IRS urged taxpayers to be on the lookout for schemes stemming from these recent events.
“These scams evolve over time and adjust to reflect events in the news, but they all typically are variations on a familiar theme,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Recognizing these schemes and taking some simple steps can protect taxpayers against these con artists.”
While individuals and businesses deal with the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and wildland fires in the West, criminals may take advantage of this situation by creating fake charities to get money or personal information from sympathetic taxpayers. They may also attempt to con victims by impersonating a relief agency or charity that will provide relief. Such fraudulent scams and solicitations for donations may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in person.
Below are some of the more typical scams the IRS has seen:
Email Phishing Scams
The IRS has recently seen email schemes that target tax professionals, payroll professionals and human resources personnel in addition to individual taxpayers.
In email phishing attempts, criminals pose as a person or organization that taxpayers trust and recognize. They may hack an email account and send mass emails under another person’s name. They may pose as a bank, credit card company, tax software provider or government agency. If a person clicks on the link in these emails, it takes them to fake websites created by fraudsters to appear legitimate but contain phony login pages. These criminals hope victims will take the bait and provide money, passwords, Social Security numbers and other information that can lead to identity theft.
Scam emails and websites also can infect computers with malware without the user knowing it. The malware can give the criminal access to the device, enabling them to access sensitive files or track keyboard strokes, exposing logins and other sensitive information…