The Internal Revenue Service recently issued a warning that all taxpayers should be aware of.
The agency has received a growing number of reports concerning unsolicited email messages bearing the subject lines:
- Electronic Tax Return Reminder
- Automatic Income Tax Reminder
These messages are not from the IRS, but rather, from spammers trying to steal your information.
According to a spokesman for the IRS:
"The emails have links that show an IRS.gov-like website with details pretending to be about the taxpayer's refund, electronic return or tax account. The emails contain a 'temporary password' or 'one-time password' to 'access' the files to submit the refund. But when taxpayers try to access these, it turns out to be a malicious file. The IRS does not send emails about your tax refund or sensitive information. This latest scheme is yet another reminder that tax scams are a year-round business for thieves. We urge you to be on-guard at all times."
These are wise words, and a warning that absolutely should be heeded. Unfortunately, this most recent scam utilizes dozens of different compromised websites to mimic IRS.gov, and this far flung network of sites makes it very difficult to shut down in its entirety.
What's most unfortunate about scams like these is that they seem to disproportionately impact the elderly. Many of the elderly have slowly begun adopting basic technologies like email, but don't have the tech skills to spot scams when they appear in their inboxes.
We all know at least a few people who fall into that category, so be sure to spread the word about this issue to anyone you know who may be especially susceptible to falling for scams like these. The more people we can protect, the less profitable the attack becomes. Perhaps we can even gain enough ground to make it more trouble than it's worth to the scammers, forcing them to look elsewhere.