Internal Revenue Service Impersonators Increase at Tax Time
Internal Revenue Service impersonators increase in numbers during tax time, and many last-minute tax filers fall victim to identity theft or internet scammers.
False e-mail notifications asking for further details or announcing a problem with tax preparations are the most common scams. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) never contacts filers by e-mail or asks for personal financial information. The IRS sends notifications only through the U.S. postal service.
"Hackers leverage people's fear or top-of-mind thinking about tax season, asking them to visit a malicious website and trying to capture user names or other information or to download malware onto personal computers," says Brendan Ziolo, vice president of marketing at Kindsight, a provider of identity theft protection.
Scammers take advantage of peoples anxiety over taxes and in turn are able to steal thousands each year.
Another common phishing scam (stealing personal information through a secure link) is an e-mail offering free tax preparation. When the link is clicked on, hackers gain access to personal financial information.
"They give them complete control over your computer," says Ziolo. "They log on and steal files, statements, photos, the list is long.
"With more and more people using tax software, people are saving tax returns and other documents on their computers, Ziolo continued. These contain personally identifiable information that hackers can use to steal your identity or sell the information to others."
If you feel like you have been the victim of a scam or receive a suspicious e-mail, report it to the IRS by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.