This Bureau of Information Resource Management bulletin intends to remind our colleagues of the tax scam techniques used by cybercriminals. During this time of year, it is particularly important to be aware of scams that prey on unsuspecting taxpayers.
Here are a couple of commonly used tax scams that everyone should avoid, along with some tips to help you protect yourself from identity theft.
A scam using unsolicited e-mail, or a fake website posing as a legitimate website, to trick you into providing personal and financial information. Cybercriminals use the information collected to commit identity theft or financial theft.
Tips to keep in mind:
- The IRS will not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
- The IRS will not send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on anything claiming to be from the IRS that takes you by surprise.
- If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS, report it by sending it firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, official IRS websites begin with www.irs.gov.
Return Preparer Fraud
A person who prepares tax returns with the intent of committing refund fraud or identity theft. Common victims of this scam are people who are not required to file a tax return, non-English speaking individuals and the elderly, but anyone is a potential victim.
Be suspicious of any tax preparer who:
- Promises a large refund (without looking at your records). Reputable tax preparers will not cold call you and promise you a large return without first reviewing your records.
- Asks you to sign a blank return.
- Charges fees based on the amount of the refund.
Before choosing a tax preparer, you should ask for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN, then verify it with the Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers at www.irs.gov.
For more information, please refer to DHS’ Stop.Think.Connect. campaign, which is a national public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the understanding of cyber threats and empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online. See attached document for more information.