Each year, right about now, thousands of people lose personal information and millions of dollars to IRS Imposter Scams. As we wrap up the 2018 tax season, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is encouraging taxpayers and businesses to be on alert for two NEW variations of tax-related phone and email scams, by reviewing the 2019 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Consumer Alert. CISA also provided insightful tips on avoiding ever-evolving Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks.
In truth, the most successful hacks are NOT the product of high-tech engineering. The majority are simply the result of bad actors preying on vulnerable or under-informed individuals. An IRS imposter scam will begin with some form of attention-seeking or quick action request contact. This will come to unsuspecting consumers/business owners via phone call, email, postal letter or text message claiming:
- You owe taxes. They demand you pay immediately with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may even go as far as threatening to arrest you if you do not remit payment.
- You are required to verify your personal information. This one is particularly clever and can appear official. The message often includes a phony button or hyperlink phrase, like “click here,” leading to a fraudulent form or website.
Want to make sure you don’t fall prey? Check out the IRS’s actual procedures.
Quick Do & Don’t Reference to Avoid IRS Imposter Scams
According to the www.usa.gov website:
- Beware if someone calls claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS will always contact you by mail before calling you about unpaid taxes.
- Ask a caller to provide their name and badge number and callback number. Then call TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484 to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you. If the person legitimately is from the IRS, call them back. Otherwise report it to the IRS.
- Become familiar with what fraudulent IRS email messages look like. Review a sample IRS phishing email.
- Verify the number of the letter, form, or notice on the IRS website.
- Be suspicious of threats. The IRS won’t threaten to have police arrest you for not paying a bill.
- Don’t give in to demands to pay money immediately. Be especially suspicious of demands to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Don’t trust the name or phone number on a caller ID display that shows “IRS.” Scammers often change the name that shows on caller ID.
- Don’t click on any links in email or text messages to verify your information.