It's tax season, which is prime time for scammers who would rather be phishing.
Not to be confused with the outdoor activity, phishing is the act of sending fake emails purporting to come from a bank, agency or other institution to a large swath of email users, in an attempt to get recipients to enter sensitive information, such as social security numbers or bank account logins.
Email fraudsters often use emails appearing to be from the Internal Revenue Service, but this year, the agency is warning Americans to be on the lookout for a new phishing scam that uses emails purporting to be from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service.
The fake emails 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.”
Recipients are directed to click on links that supposedly provide information about the "advocate" assigned to their case or that let them "review reported income." The links lead to web pages that solicit personal information.
Taxpayers who get these messages should not respond to the email or click on the links. Instead, they should forward the scam emails to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the IRS's Report Phishing web page.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service is a legitimate IRS organization that helps taxpayers resolve federal tax issues that have not been resolved through the normal IRS channels. The IRS, including TAS, does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, texting or any social media.