IRS warns of tax refund email scam, malware threat

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A new phishing scam is out this week posing as IRS email and installing malware if computer users enter a “temporary password” to access files.

The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners warned taxpayers and tax professionals about the new IRS impersonation scam, which is spreading nationwide.

The IRS never sends unsolicited emails and never emails taxpayers about the status of refunds.

If you have received the scam email, you can report it through the IRS tip email, phishing@irs.gov.

The scam email’s subject line may vary, but recent examples use the phrase “Automatic Income Tax Reminder” or “Electronic Tax Return Reminder.”

The emails have links that show an IRS.gov-like website with details pretending to be about the taxpayer’s refund, electronic return or tax account. The emails contain a “temporary password” or “one-time password” to “access” the files to submit the refund. But when taxpayers try to access these, it  turns out to be a malicious file.

“The IRS does not send emails about your tax refund or sensitive financial information,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “This latest scheme is yet another reminder that tax scams are a year-round business for thieves. We urge you to be on-guard at all times.”

This new scam uses dozens of compromised websites and web addresses that pose as IRS.gov, making it a challenge to shut down. By infecting computers with malware, these imposters may gain control of the taxpayer’s computer or secretly download software that tracks every keystroke, eventually giving them passwords to sensitive accounts, such as financial accounts.

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. The IRS also doesn’t call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.

For more details, see Report Phishing and Online Scams.

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