IRS Warns Tax Preparers About Phishing Scams

Post Date: 1/27/16
Last Updated: 1/28/16


Cross References

A phishing scam is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, pass- words, credit card details, taxpayer information, etc., often for malicious reasons, by mas- querading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

The IRS is warning the tax preparer community that there are numerous phishing scams currently out there that are targeting tax preparers. The IRS advises that all tax preparers run deep security scans on their computer systems before engaging in this year’s filing season.

In one phishing scam, an email is sent to a tax preparer by a potential new client wanting to know the tax preparer’s procedure for taking on a new client and the information the client needs to send to the tax preparer. When the tax preparer responds to the initial enquiry, the potential new client provides a link and asks the tax preparer to click on the link to look at the information and provide a price quote for tax preparation services based upon the information provided in the link. Once the tax preparer clicks on the link, malicious spyware is placed on the tax preparer’s computer system in an attempt to steal sensitive information stored on the tax preparer’s computer. Never click on an email link from an unknown source, even if the potential client appears to be legitimate, and even if the tax preparer thinks his or her virus protection software will block the spyware.

In another phishing scam, tax preparers who renew their PTIN receive what appears to be a follow up email from the IRS asking the tax preparer to click on a link to see a mes- sage in their PTIN online account at the IRS. Never click on a link provided in an email, even if it appears to be from the IRS. Go to the IRS website and logon in the same way the tax preparer renewed his or her PTIN to see any message in his or her PTIN online account.

Here are a few suggestions provided by the IRS to avoid being the victim of a phishing scam:
- Avoid suspicious phishing emails that appear to be from the IRS or other companies. Do not click on the links. Go directly to their websites instead.
- Beware of phishing scams asking you to update or verify your accounts.
- To avoid malware, don’t open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it contains.
- Download and install software only from websites you know and trust.
- Use security software to block pop-up ads, which can contain viruses.
- Ensure your family understands safe online and computer habits.
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