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  • Writer's pictureDr. Mark Lee Levine, Professor

IRS IS BACK WITH WARNINGS:  DIRTY DOZEN! 



As I have written many times over the years, the IRS publishes a Newsletter that warns of schemes.  Recently, the IRS issued its Newswire IR-2024-84. 


The topic:  “IRS kicks off annual Dirty Dozen with warning about phishing and smishing scams.”'


The Dirty Dozen is an annual list the IRS started publishing in 2002 to advise the public of concerns with potential frauds connected with tax issues.


In this 2024 Issue, the IRS warned of some of the newest scams that are being foisted on the public.


 The IRS warned:  “…individuals and businesses to remain vigilant against these attacks. Fraudsters and identity thieves attempt to trick the recipient into clicking a suspicious link, filling out personal and financial information or downloading a malware file onto their computer.”


The IRS Commissioner, Danny Werfel, warned:


“People can be anxious to get the latest information about their refund or other tax issues, so scammers frequently try using the IRS as a way to trick people. The IRS urges people to be extra cautious about unsolicited messages and avoid clicking any links in an unsolicited email or text if they are uncertain.”


This Issue from the IRS warns about two broad groups of scams that are being perpetrated against the public.


  • Phishing:  This approach to a scam often involves an email sent by the criminals when they are setting up the fraud.  The IRS noted that this type of email attempts to trick the victim “…into the scam with a variety of ruses such as enticing victims with a phony tax refund or threatening them with false legal or criminal charges for tax fraud.”

 

  • Smishing:  This group of scams works off using a text or smartphone SMS message.  The fraudster tries to scare or alarm the victim by a message that startlers the recipient of the message.  The message might say:

    • “Your account has now been put on hold," or ‘Unusual Activity Report,’ with a bogus ‘Solutions’ link to restore the recipient's account. Unexpected tax refunds are another potential lure for scam artists.” 


This type of scam often encourages the taxpayer to immediately pay to the “IRS” a given some of money, gift card, or other payment.  Often the scammer poses as an IRS agent.


Of course, the IRS warns:


“Never click on any unsolicited communication claiming to be the IRS as it may surreptitiously load malware. It may also be a way for malicious hackers to load ransomware that keeps the legitimate user from accessing their system and files.”


The IRS has suggested some good follow-up advice:


“Individuals should never respond to tax-related phishing or smishing or click on the URL link. Instead, report all unsolicited email - including the full email headers - claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related function to phishing@irs.gov. If someone experienced any monetary losses due to an IRS-related scam incident, they should report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the Federal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).


If a taxpayer receives an email claiming to be from the IRS that contains a request for personal information, taxes associated with a large investment, inheritance or lottery.


  • Don't reply.

  • Don't open any attachments. They can contain malicious code that may infect the computer or mobile phone.

  • Don't click on any links. If a taxpayer inadvertently clicked on links in a suspicious email or website and entered confidential information, visit the IRS’ identity protection page.

  • Send the full email headers or forward the email as-is to phishing@irs.gov. Don't forward screenshots or scanned images of emails because this removes valuable information.

  • Delete the original email.

If a taxpayer receives a text claiming to be from the IRS that contains a request for personal information, taxes associated with a large investment, inheritance or lottery.


  • Don't reply.

  • Don't open any attachments. They can contain malicious code that may infect the computer or mobile phone.

  • Don't click on any links. If a taxpayer clicked on links in a suspicious SMS and entered confidential information, they should visit Identity Theft Central.

  • Report the message to 7726 (SPAM).

  • Include both the Caller ID and the message body in an email and send to phishing@irs.gov. Copy the Caller ID from the message by pressing and holding on the body of the text message, then select Copy, paste into the email. If the taxpayer is unable to copy the Caller ID or message body, forward a screenshot of the message.

  • Delete the original text.”

For more information on what a taxpayer might do when receiving these scam messages and acts to attempt to defraud the public, contact the IRS at any of the following sites:



It is, after all, Tax Season—Scam Season!

 

By

Dr. Mark Lee Levine, Professor, University of Denver.

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