The Federal Trade Commission defines phishing as “…when a scammer uses fraudulent communications to get you to share valuable personal information—such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, logins and passwords. They can also install malware programs through fake emails.”1
During tax season, the IRS reports seeing a large spike in the number of phishing and malware (software that can weaken your computer’s security) incidents. Thieves are continuously evolving their tactics to try to confuse taxpayers during filing season. Beyond taxpayers, thieves are also targeting schools and tax, payroll and human resources professionals.
We’ll examine some prevalent phishing schemes and signs that your personal information may have been compromised and used in a tax fraud scheme. Learn more about keeping your personal data safe and secure.
In email schemes, thieves may pose as a person or organization that the taxpayer recognizes and trusts. Or they might hack into an email account and send mass emails under another person’s name. They might pose as a bank, credit card company, a software provider or government agency. These scammers might even create fake websites that look legitimate, hoping to fool people into logging in and thereby learning their passwords.
"These email schemes continue to evolve and can fool even the most cautious person. Email messages can look like they come from the IRS or others in the tax community,” says IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers should avoid opening surprise emails or clicking on web links claiming to be from the IRS. Don’t be fooled by unexpected emails about big refunds, tax bills or requesting personal information. That’s not how the IRS communicates with taxpayers.”2
The IRS publishes Tax Tips throughout the year—both in print and digital—covering a wide range of tax topics. The following is adapted from one of their articles and lists the most common signs of identity theft.3
Signs that you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft include:
If you’ve suffered identity theft involving taxes, contact the IRS immediately and report your situation. More information about tax-related identity theft can be found at Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance as well as the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft – all on IRS.gov.
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This material was prepared by The Ayco Company, L.P. an affiliate of United Capital Financial Advisers, LLC d/b/a Goldman Sachs Personal Financial Management (“GS PFM”). This material was prepared for informational purposes only and should not be construed as personal financial planning, investment, tax, accounting, or legal advice. No investment decisions should be made using this data. GS PFM believes the material used for the article is accurate, but does not verify its accuracy independently and does not warrant or guarantee that is it accurate or complete. Information and opinions expressed in this article are as of the date of this material only and subject to change without notice. © 2020 The Ayco Company, L.P., a Goldman Sachs Company. All Rights Reserved.
United Capital Financial Advisers, LLC d/b/a Goldman Sachs Personal Financial Management (“GS PFM”) is a registered investment adviser and an affiliate of Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and subsidiary of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., a worldwide, full-service investment banking, broker-dealer, asset management, and financial services organization.
The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered investment advice. GS PFM does not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. Clients should obtain their own independent legal, tax, or accounting advice based on their particular circumstances. Please contact your financial adviser with questions about your specific needs and circumstances.
Information and opinions expressed by individuals other than GS PFM employees do not necessarily reflect the view of GS PFM. Information and opinions expressed in this article are as of the date of this material only and subject to change without notice.