As typical this time each year scammers are trying to trick innocent people into sharing personal information that is later used against them. The latest phishing attempt comes as criminals pretend to be Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).
With proliferation of the Internet phishing has gained more interest from scammers as a new tool in stealing information. Phishing is an attempt by the scammers to portray themselves as someone else and mimic its operations in order to extract the information they need. In this particular case, the scammers created a website completely unrelated to Taxpayer Advocate Service but one that resembles it. Those websites are often complete replicas of the real sites and it is difficult to realize if they are legit or not.
What to look for?
The current scam has to do with an email that may include the following message:
Your reported 2013 income is flagged for review due to a document processing error. Your case has been forwarded to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance. To avoid delays processing your 2013 filing, contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance.
You will be requested to clink on a link that directs you to your case and an advocate who can assist you with it. There may be a mention of “review of reported income” and in the process an attempt to extract your personal information.
What to be aware of?
One important giveaway that a site is a phishing scam is the fact that it solicits your information. The scammers devise a plan to make you think that by answering a few questions you are able to resolve the issue you found yourself in. The IRS or TAS never contact taxpayers via email, text message, or any form of social media. You may receive a communication from the IRS but it will be a letter. If you’re unsure of its veracity, contact the IRS using phone numbers listed on irs.gov and corroborate if in fact you need to take any action.
What to do?
If you are ever contacted by the IRS or TAS via email, be suspicious. If you expect to be contacted be either one of those agencies make sure not to reveal personal information until you’re absolutely certain a person you speak with is an employee of either of those two agencies. If you have no reason to believe that the IRS or TAS would contact you report any suspicious activity to the IRS at email@example.com. In a subject line to the IRS mention “Suspicious website” and then provide any relevant information including the URL of the suspicious website.