By: Joyce Wassell
On Mar. 30, the IRS released a statement warning of an IRS-impersonation scam.
According to the agency, if you're waiting for your refund, you should be on the lookout for emails with the IRS logo and varying subject lines that contain the words "tax refund payment"—two of them being simply "Tax Refund Payment" or "Recalculation of your tax refund payment." These emails are prompting people to click a link and submit a form, claiming they could receive their refund by completing the email's instructions. Unfortunately, the form is just an attempt for scammers to get your information.
The IRS warns that the "phishing website"—the one you're redirected to if you follow the email's instructions—asks for personal information like your social security number, driver's license number, and electronic filing information. Other personal details requested in the scam are your first and last name, date of birth, prior year annual gross income, current address, and your electronic filing pin. While anyone is susceptible to the scam, it "appears to primarily target educational institutions, including students and staff who have “.edu” email addresses," the IRS says. Complaints sent to the IRS' phishing website account in recent weeks have been from college students "from both public and private, profit and non-profit institutions," the warning notice explains.
If you've accidentally fallen for the scam and revealed your personal details on that phishing website, the IRS urges you to promptly obtain an Identity Protection PIN. "This is a voluntary opt-in program. An IP PIN is a six-digit number that helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns in the victim's name," the IRS says. Additionally, if you do happen to obtain this fraudulent email, you can report it to the IRS. To do so, just save the email with the "save as" button and send it as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Both the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and IRS Criminal Investigation are aware of the scam. If you have yet to be fooled by this email and are awaiting a tax refund, the IRS says the best thing to do is simply check the IRS.gov website and follow the prompt that reads: Where's My Refund?