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Fraud Alert: Beware of Email Scams During Tax Season

by: Smith and Howard

January 25, 2016

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Today, it is unfortunately too regularly that we are sharing information about scams with our clients and friends. Usually, these scams are created in an attempt to gather your personal identity and information to then be used in an array of criminal activities from credit card fraud to income tax refund fraud.

The latest scam – (click here to view sample the email) – features the subject header “2015 Tax Reduction File”. It’s intended to fool the recipient into filling out the form and submitting it. The implication of this offer is certainly appealing; after all, who doesn’t want their income taxes reduced?

This request is fraudulent. Do not complete it, and certainly do not hit “submit.”

Indicators of a Fraudulent Email

  • Poor writing: Bad grammar and random capitalized letters appear throughout the email. Just a quick “sniff test” of these elements indicates it is of questionable origin.
  • A big ask for key personal information: The form asks you to provide the pieces of personal information that are necessary to perpetrate the crime of identity theft and more specifically, the crime of income tax refund fraud. This phony solicitation requests absolutely everything that a criminal would need in order to create a fake W-2, and then immediately file a fraudulent income tax return. This includes: you and your spouse’s social security numbers; dates of birth; address; email address(es); IRS PIN(s); employer(s) name(s) and address(es); employee identification number(s), filing status, and salary and/or salaries. An identity thief can prepare a phony W-2 and electronically file a fraudulent income tax return using your information in less than 30 minutes. If you completed this form, then you just gave them everything they need to do it.
  • The fact that this was even sent via email: How does the IRS know your email address? Have you ever sent the IRS an email? Have you ever thought of that for a minute? We know you haven’t, and the reason is that tax agencies like the IRS don’t know your email address! When you file income tax returns, you are not asked to provide your email address on any of them.
  • Ambiguous yet scary threat: The IRS will not threaten you with regard to taking actions against “your next filing,” as this bogus email states.

Be advised that the IRS will never communicate with you via email or text – nor do IRS officials call you at home, unless you have called them.

There’s a good chance that hitting the submit button on this fraudulent email would also infect your computer with a virus, or enable some other stealth software to latch onto your operating system.

If you ever receive an email from any income tax agency, and you are in doubt about its validity, do not respond to it. It’s most likely a scam. Contact your Smith & Howard professional immediately if you have any questions at 404-874-6244 or by leaving a message below.

How can we help?

If you have any questions and would like to connect with a team member please call 404-874-6244 or contact an advisor below.

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