The Internal Revenue Service has continued its Dirty Dozen campaign to keep people vigilant against scams with a warning about emails and text messages that attempt to steal a taxpayer’s information.

IRS Dirty Dozen Tax Scams 2023

These email and text scams are just a couple of the many ways cybercriminals try to acquire sensitive information from their targets. Known as ‘phishing’ and ‘smishing’, they were the featured scams of the second day of the Dirty Dozen campaign for 2023, which has been running every year since 2014.

Beware Phishing and Smishing

Phishing is a term coined over quarter of a century ago and is a play on the spelling of fishing, and the similarity of using lures to fish for sensitive information that can be used to commit fraud. Such phishing scams usually occur via email, with a typical tactic being to bulk send spam emails in the hopes of finding an unsuspecting victim.

Smishing is an amalgamation of phishing and SMS, as it relates directly to phishing attacks that happen via text message.

Scammers ‘Pose as the IRS’ During Tax Season

The IRS Commissioner, Danny Werfel, further explained the dangers of phishing and smishing scams, saying: “Email and text scams are relentless, and scammers frequently use tax season as a way of tricking people. With people anxious to receive the latest information about a refund or other tax issue, scammers will regularly pose as the IRS, a state tax agency or others in the tax industry in emails and texts. People should be incredibly wary about unexpected messages like this that can be a trap, especially during filing season.”

A statement on the IRS website also explained the Dirty Dozen campaign and other work that the IRS does to combat such scams: “As a member of the Security Summit, the IRS, with state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry, have taken numerous steps over the last eight years to warn people to watch out for common scams and schemes each tax season that can contribute to identity theft. Along with the Security Summit initiative, the Dirty Dozen aims to protect taxpayers, businesses and the tax system from identity thieves and various hoaxes designed to steal money and information.

“The Dirty Dozen is an annual IRS list of 12 scams and schemes that put taxpayers and the tax professional community at risk of losing money, personal data and more. Some items on the list are new, and some make a return visit. While the list is not a legal document or a formal listing of agency enforcement priorities, it is intended to alert taxpayers, businesses and tax preparers about scams at large.”

How the IRS Contacts Taxpayers

The IRS also reiterated their usual method of contacting taxpayers is by regular mail, and that the IRS will ‘never initiate contact’ by email or text message regarding a bill or tax refund.

The tax authority has also provided an email address with which to report any scam messages taxpayers receive. The scam emails can be forwarded, or a copy of the text/SMS can be sent as an attachment, to phishing@irs.gov along with details such as caller ID, date, time and time zone, and the number that received the message if an SMS scam.

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Source: Small Business Trends

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