This summer, the Internal Revenue Service warned us of a surge of tax scams. Identity thieves were sending a barrage of email and text messages promising tax refunds or offers to help fix tax problems.
Apparently, the scammers are continuing into the fall.
This crook apparently was trying to convince me to click on the StatementClaim.pdf document.
I was curious, but not that curious.
However, I did like how the crook tried to pique my interest by annotating the fake text as an internal tax agency message. Or rather as "messageinternal-Irs."
And while I'd love to be an IRS insider, like all my tax savvy readers, I know that the IRS never sends us taxpayers emails or text messages, and definitely not as the first contact.
Instead, when the IRS has an issue or question about our filings, it first goes the U.S. Postal Service route, sending us old-school printed communications to our snail mailboxes.
If you think there is a legitimate reason that the IRS might have an interest in your filing, go directly to the IRS yourself. Or contact your tax advisor/preparer.
Various scam avenues: This is the first tax smishing attempt I've received. This text messaging cousin of phishing gets its name from the Short Message Service (SMS) systems used for texting; sometimes it's written as SMiShing.
Whatever you call it, text tax scams have increased because we all spend so much time on our mobile devices.
But the scam tactics, like impersonating the IRS, are the same. So are the crooks' goals. They are looking to steal your personal and financial information, to use to file fraudulent tax returns or totally take over your identity.
The one I got also used a common ploy, including the PDF link the crooks hoped I would click. Never do that.
In this case, the fake tax document likely would have infected my phone with malicious code that could give the sender access to my device. Other smishing attempts often include a link that will take you a website where the crooks will try to collect your data.
Again, any purported IRS text or email is a giant red scam flag.
Don't ever respond to the smishing attempt, but do report it to the IRS.
Reporting IRS-related smishing: Letting the IRS know you got an impersonation text (or email) is critical to ending them. When you send the IRS details from the text, it can use the info to disrupt the scams and catch the criminal senders.
The IRS wants tax smishing targets to forward the text as-is to the agency at (202) 552-1226. Standard text messaging rates apply.
If possible, in a separate text, forward the originating number to the IRS at the same phone number noted above.
Then delete the original text.
All incidents, successful and attempted, should also be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The Federal Communications Commission's (FTC's) Smartphone Security Checker also is a useful tool against mobile security threats.
If the texting scammer was so convincing you fell for it and provided the crook personal tax information, or otherwise find yourself falling victim to a tax-related scam, got to the IRS' online Identity Theft Central for additional resources.
Tax Felon Friday: When the IRS catches and convicts the people involve in smishing and other tax scams, they will be prime candidates for the ol' blog's Tax Felon Friday feature.
You can read more tax crime posts, including those that were published long before I gave them a special designation, in the, what else, tax crimes category. You'll find this post at the top of that category right now, so just scroll down for more.
You also might find these items of interest:
- IP PINs recommended to thwart tax ID thieves
- ID theft scams & hacks continue in the tax world (& beyond)
- Watch for these data theft red flags, by tax and other financial crooks
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