IRS impersonation scam gains momentum

With the deadline for filing extended tax returns having just passed, taxpayers need to be extra cautious about emails that appear to come from the IRS.

The IRS recently announced that there has been a spike in an IRS impersonation scam. Targets of the scam have reported receiving emails from what looks like a legitimate IRS.gov email with a subject line reading something along the lines of, “Automatic Income Tax Reminder” or “Electronic Tax Return Reminder.”

The scam emails pretend to be about the recipient’s tax refund, electronic return or tax account. The poison pill is in the link included in the emails that appear to direct the user to the IRS website where the user will be asked to enter a “temporary password” or a “one-time password” to access the supposed files and submit for the refund. Of course, clicking on the link leads the victim to a malicious file that will infect the user’s computer with malware, which is then used to gain control of the victim’s computer or it will secretly download software that tracks every keystroke, eventually giving the bad guys passwords to sensitive accounts.

Remember, the IRS does not send unsolicited emails or text messages, and it does not email taxpayers about the status of refunds. If you should receive a suspicious email of any sort, don’t take any chances and delete it immediately. If you are concerned that it could be legitimate correspondence from the IRS or you are indeed contacted by the IRS for any reason, please contact your tax adviser immediately.

Mat Payne is the Technology Director for Antares Group, Inc. He can be reached at mrp@antarescpas.com.