Is it really from the IRS?

This year’s extended tax deadline means that cyber scammers have had plenty of time to devise means of stealing your credentials and possibly, your refund.

Cyber security researchers recently identified a tax scam where a cyber criminal sends out a fake 1040 tax form to a victim, and then tells the victim that the IRS needs the form completed.

An unwitting victim then gives his/her personal details to the scammer.

According to cyber security engineer Maya Levine, deploying this type of tax scam is easy, as it can be purchased in a “phishing kit,” which is the equivalent of buying a cyber attack strategy off-the-shelf at a supermarket.

To avoid these types of scams, Levine recommends that individuals who need access to a particular website “go to Google, and type in where you’re trying to go and go there from the legitimate website.”

Earlier this year, the IRS reported roughly $135.6 million in losses from tax refund fraud cases. Share on X This represents a 751% increase over the numbers reported in the previous year, according to a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Other common tax scams include:

  • Phone calls from caller IDs that say “IRS.”
  • Threatening letters from a “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.”
  • Demands for prepaid debt, gift card or wire transfer.

How can you combat the scammers?

Security engineer Mark Ostrowski urges people to be vigilant with their online activity. Don’t click on messages that come through your email that link to your tax filing site. Complete your return via your own web browser, and do not download or upload any tax documents to or from untrusted websites.

For more information on tax scams, read this article.