How taxpayers can avoid phishing scams

Blog # 72

How taxpayers can avoid phishing scams

Knowledge and awareness are two things that can protect taxpayers from getting caught up in a phishing scam.

A phishing scam is often an unsolicited email or a website that looks like a legitimate site designed to trick users. The scams convince people into providing personal and financial information. Scam emails can arrive to personal and work accounts on computers, smartphones and tablets.

Scammers often use one or more of these tactics:

  • Pose as a trusted bank, retail store, government agency or even a tax professional
  • Tell the taxpayer there is something wrong with their account
  • Tell the recipient they’re in violation of a law
  • Tell the taxpayer to open a link in email or download an attachment
  • Send the taxpayer a familiar looking -but fake- website and ask them to log in to it.

Thieves trick taxpayers in to revealing account numbers and passwords.

Thieves secretly download malicious software on to someone’s device to collect personal information.

A criminal might also try to fool the receipt into sending money to the scammers.

It is important to remember that the IRS will never:

Call to demand immediate payment using specific payment method such as a prepaid card, iTunes gift card or wire transfer.

  • Ask a taxpayer to make a payment to a person or organization other than the U.S. Treasury.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement, saying they can have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

Taxpayers who receive an IRS-related or tax-themed phishing email should forward it to as well as the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration