Tax season is upon us, which means tax scammers are ramping up their tactics to take advantage of tax payers throughout the country. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) often sends out warnings about scams in an effort to better protect the public from becoming a victim. One specific scam the agency has voiced concerns about involves an attempt to gain information from tax preparers.
The agency specifically called out tax preparation professionals in a recent publication. The publication notes that this scam will attempt to gather data from “compromised” tax preparers’ offices.
How do scammers compromise the files in a tax preparer’s office? The agency suspects that these scammers are gaining access through the use of phishing scams. This type of scam generally starts with an email that contains an attachment. An individual that clicks on the link may inadvertently allow installation of malicious software. This could allow the scammers’ access to client’s personal data. The scammer than uses this data to steal the client’s tax refund.
How can tax preparation professionals protect their clients? It is always wise to refrain from opening suspicious emails and keep security software on their systems up to date.
How do I know if an email is suspicious? The agency provides specific examples of emails used in these phishing scams. The emails often request tax preparers to update their IRS e-services portal information and Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs).
The IRS also clarifies that it does not generally initiate contact via emails. Any such correspondence should be carefully reviewed. If it seems suspicious, it may be wise to report the contact to the IRS.