Did you just get an email about your tax refund? Or maybe an email using the phrase an “electronic tax return reminder?”
Ignore it. It’s a hot new scam, according to the latest warnings from the Internal Revenue Service.
Taxpayers are increasingly reporting that they’re receiving unsolicited emails from IRS impostors. The subject line on the email could vary, but some are using phrases that include the word “reminder,” such as “Automatic Income Tax Reminder.”
The traditional income tax season may be months away. But some tax-related deadlines remain on the 2019 calendar, including Sept. 16 for those making third-quarter estimated tax payments, and Oct. 15, which is the final date for filing if you requested an extension to file individual tax returns for the 2018 tax year. You’d file by Oct. 15 to avoid a potential late filing penalty.
As those deadlines loom on the horizon, it’s likely that we’re going to see a few more emails being rolled out by the spammers and scammers who want to hijack your computer or steal your cash.
Tax scams run all year long
Once again, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig warned in a statement: “The latest scheme is yet another reminder that tax scams are a year-round business for thieves.”
The IRS isn’t going to be sending you an email about your tax refund or sensitive financial information. And you should never respond to suspicious or unknown emails.
Taxpayers can notify the IRS about unsolicited emails from impostors by forwarding the emails or sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One problem with the fake emails is that many show an IRS.gov website so you think it’s the real deal.
And there may be details that pretend to relate to the taxpayer’s refund, electronic return or tax situation.
“Because these scammers often use sensitive information about you that they have stolen from other sites, you might be tricked into letting down your guard and becoming infected with malware,” said Luis D. Garcia, an IRS spokesman in Detroit.
Phony emails contain a ‘one-time’ password
Another red flag: The phony emails contain a “temporary password” or a “one-time password.”
Those passwords supposedly allow you to access the necessary tax files. What really happens, though, is that taxpayers end up unknowingly downloading a malicious file.
The latest scam uses dozens of compromised websites and web addresses that pose as www.irs.gov, which the IRS says makes it challenging to shut down.