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IRS Issues Warning On New Tax Info Phishing Attempts

Mike Godfrey, Tax-News.com, Washington DC

10 January 2018


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has warned tax professionals that a new round of emails from cybercriminals posing as potential clients are attempting to trick practitioners into disclosing sensitive information.

The Security Summit, comprising the IRS, state tax agencies, and the tax industry, on January 9, 2018, encouraged tax practitioners to be wary of communicating solely by email with potential or even existing clients, especially if unusual requests are made.

"Data breach thefts have given thieves millions of identity data points including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and email addresses. If in doubt, tax practitioners should call to confirm a client's identity," said the IRS.

Fraudsters are using phishing emails to trick tax professionals into opening a link or attached document by posing as potential clients. If the practitioner responds, the criminal will send a second email that contains either a phishing URL or an attached document that contains a phishing URL, claiming their tax data is enclosed. The fraudster wants the tax professional to click on the link or attachment and then enter their credentials. In some cases, the URL or attachment might be malicious and if clicked will download malicious software onto the tax professional's computer.

"Depending on the malware involved, this scheme could give fraudsters access to the tax practitioners' secure accounts or sensitive data. It may even give the fraudster remote control of the tax professionals' computers," said the IRS.

The agency has also received reports of a scam involving cybercriminals posing as IRS e-Services, asking tax professionals to sign into their accounts and providing a disguised link. The link sends tax professionals to a fake e-Services site that steals their usernames and passwords.

The IRS reminded tax professionals that it does not send unsolicited mails. Tax practitioners receiving emails from fraudsters posing as the IRS, or even their tax software provider, should go directly to the main website, such as IRS.gov, rather than opening any links or attachments.

TAGS: tax | Internal Revenue Service (IRS) | professionals | United States | Tax

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