Cybersecurity: Tax scams

Watch out for tax scams

Taxpayers should be vigilant when they receive a suspicious communication claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, requesting personal information such as a Social Security number, credit card number, financial account number or passport number.

These scams typically start with a phone call (vishing), an email (phishing) or a text message (SMSishing) saying you owe back taxes, or that you are getting a larger refund than expected. The criminal poses as an IRS agent in an attempt to gather personal information or to pressure you into making a payment.

Here’s how it works:

  • Criminals call you claiming that they are issuing a tax refund and need you to provide personal information to process the tax return.
  • The criminals play on your emotions by creating a sense of fear, indicating that failure to comply with their money demands may lead to your deportation, a lawsuit or an arrest if you do not pay immediately.
  • You will get an email or text message saying that several discrepancies have been found with the taxes you filed, which need to be updated. The email includes a link where you can update your information, or an attachment, like a refund spreadsheet or form that actually contains malware or ransomware.
  • Criminals will try to trick you with what appears to be an e-transfer or a direct deposit from the IRS for a tax refund to your financial account. You will be asked to click on a link to deposit this money into your account.

What you should do:

  • Remember that the IRS will never ask you for personal/confidential information over the phone, through an email or in a text message.
  • If you suspect you may be the victim of fraud or have been tricked into giving personal or financial information, contact your financial advisor right away.