Let’s Not Go Phishing

Sadly, the internet has brought new found problems as well as the tremendous benefits proven over the years.  With regard to the IRS, there are everyday challenges to protect taxpayers and their sensitive data.  You’ve heard it before, but the information in this blog bears repeating.

In their attempt to avoid theft of taxpayer information and identity, the IRS offers tips about the phishing scams:

  • Remember that the IRS doesn’t ask for detailed personal and financial information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
  • The IRS uses the United States Postal Service to initiate taxpayer communications.  They do NOT use e-mail and won’t send a message about your tax account. Should  you receive an e-mail from an address appearing to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site,
    • DO NOT reply to the message;
    • Do NOT open any attachments as they may contain malicious code that will infect your computer;
    • Do not click on any links in the email. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit the IRS website and enter the search term ‘identity theft’ for more information and resources to help.
  • If you receive an email from the IRS, look at the ending of the address.  If it ends in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov, then it is not from the IRS.  The address of the official IRS website is http://www.irs.gov.
  • If you think you find a website that claims to be the IRS but are suspicious, do NOT provide any personal information and report the site to the IRS.
  • If you receive a phone call, fax or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you are not certain of the authenticity, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you.

If you receive the IRS phone scam or any IRS impersonation scam, you should report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting site and to the IRS by emailing phishing@irs.gov with the subject line “IRS Phone Scam”.


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About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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