The IRS wants taxpayers and tax professionals alike to be vigilant about potential tax scams as tax season winds down. The IRS noticed a spike in phishing (a form of internet fraud) email scams Thursday and Friday that sought to steal the usernames and passwords for IRS e-Services of tax professionals. The subject lines are generally related to e-Services closures, the agency said. Examples of subject lines are as follows:
- Account Closure!
- e-Service Account is Blocked
- Few Hours to Close Your Account
- Your Account is Closed
- Your Account is Terminated
- 24Hrs to Block Your Account
Links in the email take users to fake e-Services pages where the scammers can acquire login information. Tax professionals aren’t the only ones who should keep watch for possible tax scams. Phishing scams by phone and identity theft scams rise during tax season as well. Scammers will often flood the IRS with fraudulent tax returns in an effort to net a number of large returns. While the IRS can usually resolve cases that involve returns filed by someone else in your name, it’s a lengthy process. The average identity theft tax scam takes more than 278 days to resolve, according to a report by National Taxpayer Advocate. The IRS paid an estimated $5.2 billion in tax refunds on fraudulent returns in 2013, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reported in 2016 that scammers have contacted more than 1 million people since 2013, and more than 6,700 people have collectively been scammed for more than $38 million.