Watch Out for Cyber Criminals
By Don Nowak, CPA
The Internal Revenue Service receives numerous reports every year from taxpayers who receive suspicious emails, phone calls, faxes or notices claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. Many of these scams use the Internal Revenue Service name to make the fraudulent communications appear more authentic. The goal of these scams – known as phishing – is to trick you into revealing your personal and financial information.
The Internal Revenue Service lists five things they want taxpayers to know about phishing scams.
1. The IRS never asks for detailed personal and financial information.
2. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, if you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS.
• Do not reply to the message.
• Do not open any attachments.
• Do not click on any links.
3. The address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Do not be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov.
4. If you receive a phone call, fax or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. Report any bogus correspondence. You can forward a suspicious email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. You can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. Details on how to report specific types of scams and what to do if you’ve been victimized are available at www.irs.gov. Click on “phishing” on the home page.