As the 2019 tax filing season nears, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warns consumers to watch out for more sophisticated email phishing scams.
Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails disguised as being sent from trustworthy sources, in order to acquire sensitive information. According to the IRS, there’s been a 60 percent bump in email schemes designed to steal your money or tax data in 2018. After a decline for the prior three years, more than 2,000 tax-related scam incidents were reported to the IRS from January through October, compared to approximately 1,200 incidents in all of 2017.
Protect yourself from IRS impersonators
Scammers may use subject lines such as "IRS Important Notice" or "IRS Taxpayer Notice" to trick people into opening the emails and clicking on unsafe links. The IRS will not spontaneously contact you by email, text or social media to request personal or financial information. They also won’t call you by phone and threaten you with aggressive talk.
Don’t take the bait with phishing scams
To help protect you from falling for a phishing scam, remember these tips:
- Even if the email appears to be from a trusted source, be cautious. Scammers are skilled at mimicking trusted businesses, including the IRS.
- Often, phishing scams can be spotted by misspellings and bad grammar. If a message is riddled with errors, simply delete it or forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Phishing attempts rely on people opening the message and clicking on hyperlinks. Remember, no legitimate organization will ask for sensitive financial information via email.
- Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source.
If you receive a suspicious email or phone call from an individual, organization or government agency, be skeptical. Don’t share any of your personal information and don’t click on links in an email. Instead, contact the source through other means to verify authenticity. Turn to your Credit Union for more ways to spot the the red flags of phishing scams.