IRS “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scam: Phishing


Man running away with suitcase of money image on www.BudgetProfessional.comThe IRS deals with so many different tax scams every year, they make a list of the worst offenders and call it “The Dirty Dozen”.

First Scam Alert of the Year is Phishing

Today the IRS issued the first of what will be many scam warnings this year.

Taxpayers need to watch out for fake emails or websites trying to steal your personal information. These “phishing” schemes continue to be bad enough they’ve made the scam list for the 2015 filing season.

Compiled annually, the “Dirty Dozen” lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter anytime, but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or find people to help with their taxes.

Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution for the criminals behind them, but not before you may lose significant assets, or worse.

“The IRS won’t send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS that takes you by surprise,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “I urge taxpayers to be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites. They may be scams to steal your personal information.”

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a scam typically carried out with the help of unsolicited email or a fake website that poses as a legitimate site. The site is designed to lure in potential victims and prompt them to provide valuable personal and financial information. Armed with this information, a criminal can commit identity theft or financial theft.

Recent scams have used the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to attract potential victims.

The IRS Will Not Email You

It is important to know the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message, or social media to request personal or financial information.

The IRS will not ask for PIN numbers, passwords, or similar access information for credit cards, bank accounts, savings accounts, etc.

If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS that contains a request for personal information, taxes associated with a large investment, inheritance, or lottery:

  1. Don’t reply.
  2. Don’t open any attachments. They can contain malicious code that may infect your computer or mobile phone.
  3. Don’t click on any links.
  4. Forward the email as-is to the IRS at  phishing@irs.gov  Don’t forward scanned images because this removes valuable information.
  5. Delete the original email.

Report Bogus Websites Here

If you discover a website on the Internet that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus:

  1. Send the URL of the suspicious site to  phishing@irs.gov  (Subject: ‘Suspicious Website’)

Report Bogus Text Message Here

If you receive a text message claiming to be from the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS:

  1. Don’t reply.
  2. Don’t open any attachments. They can contain mal-ware that may infect your computer or mobile phone.
  3. Don’t click on any links.
  4. Forward the text as-is, to the IRS at 202-552-1226. Note: Standard text messaging rates apply.
  5. If possible, in a separate text, forward the originating number to the IRS at 202-552-1226
  6. Delete the original text

Report You’ve Been Scammed

If you’ve been scammed or lost any money due to an IRS-related incident, report it to the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)


Have you ever been the victim of an IRS or other financial scam?

Have you ever  received a phone call where the caller tried to get personal financial info from you, such as a Social Security or bank account number? 

Do you have a tax question? Send me an email and ask!
I’ll try to include your question and my answer in an upcoming Q&A Newsletter article

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