Monday, January 14, 2013

Beware of Phishing Scams During Tax Season

Like many other phishing scams, identity thieves may try to take advantage of Americans filing their taxes by sending fake emails, texts or social media postings supposedly from the IRS. But one data security proponent at the University of Georgia is warning taxpayers to be suspicious if they receive any electronic communications from the IRS seeking personal information.

“If you receive an email from the IRS that asks for your Social Security number, birth date or similar personal information, or requires some sort of action on your part, it is highly likely that it is a fake,” said Laura Heilman, UGA security awareness training and education manager. “Do not open the email or any attachments that came with it.”

The IRS only sends communications through physical mail and doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text messages or social media, she said.

Heilman also suggests not opening links in the suspicious emails from the IRS. She says delete the email or forward it to for review by the IRS.

The IRS says the following may be indications of tax-related identify theft:

• You receive a letter from the IRS because more than one tax return has been filed under your name;
• You get a notice or bill for unpaid taxes on wages you did not earn;
• The IRS lists employers you did not work for on your record.
Those who believe someone may have stolen their identities for the purposes of tax fraud may need to file IRS Form 14039, Heilman added.

For more information provided by the IRS about identity fraud, see

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