Beware of texting scams
The IRS is warning everyone of a recent increase in texting scams aimed at stealing your personal and financial information. Con artists are using texting scams (known as smishing) to pretend to be the IRS.
In the last few weeks, IRS simulated smishing has increased exponentially.
Smishing campaigns target cell phone users and often offer fake COVID relief, tax credits, or help setting up an IRS online account.
In the latest activity, scam texts often ask you to click a link where phishing websites will try to collect your information or potentially send malicious code onto your phones.
“This is phishing on an industrial scale, so thousands of people can be at risk of receiving these scam messages,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “In recent months, the IRS has reported multiple large-scale smishing campaigns that have delivered thousands – and even hundreds of thousands – of IRS-themed messages in hours or a few days, far exceeding previous levels of activity.”
You should report these scams to email@example.com. When you report scams to the IRS, it enables them to report the scam to the appropriate service providers for action, protecting other people who might receive a variant of the same scam.
The IRS tries to stop online fraud. However, criminals are constantly creating new tactics to exploit more victims. They are known to use algorithms to automatically create hundreds or even thousands of fraudulent domains. For example, a recent strategy used just three dozen bogus or stolen email addresses to make over 1,000 fraudulent domains.
“Particularly in these cases, the best offense is a good defense,” said Rettig. “Taxpayers and tax pros need to remain constantly vigilant with suspicious IRS-related emails and text messages. And if you get one, sending the IRS important details from the text can help us disrupt the scams and protect others.”
Reporting fake IRS texts to the IRS allows security professionals to track and help stop these scams. When reporting scam texts, the IRS prefers that you include both the body of the message and the sender’s information in one text or email. Copying the actual text into an email is preferred. However, screenshots can be sent if necessary. You can also scam SMS/text messages by copying and forwarding them to wireless providers via text to 7726 (SPAM). Reporting scams helps the IRS to spot and block similar messages in the future.
The IRS will never send you emails or text messages asking for personal or financial information or account numbers.
Emails and texts claiming to be the IRS should always be a red flag.
David Zubler is a tax accountant and Enrolled Agent in East Tennessee, providing tax strategies and representing clients before the IRS and has over 25 years of tax experience. He is the author of six tax books and has shared tax advice on national TV. He is the founder and president of Your Tax Care. The company provides business and tax education, including David’s one-minute tax tip radio recordings at YourTaxCare.com. David can be reached at (865) 363-3019 or contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.