Beware of IRS Scams
As recently reported in the media, Internet criminals will take advantage of the upcoming Federal tax deadline to try and steal your personal, sensitive, and confidential information. The Texas Tech University Office of the CIO urges you to use caution with any communication that uses the IRS name, logo, or website, and requests confidential information. According to the IRS website (https://www.irs.gov/), the “IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. In addition, IRS does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action.” When possible, file your taxes early in the season to help thwart tax identity thieves from stealing your identity and possibly claiming a return.
Also be cautious of emails that might look like they are sent from an online tax preparation service. Some of these email scams appear legitimate and therefore, are hard to distinguish as a scam.
Warning signs that an email or phone call is an attempt to steal your identity:
- Requests personal and/or financial information; such as name, SSN, bank/credit card account numbers;
- Requests security-related information, such as mother’s maiden name, password, or PIN;
- Offers a special tax refund program available by email;
- Invites you to participate in an IRS survey and receive a stipend or discount on taxes owed;
- Threatens additional taxes or frozen tax refunds for not responding;
- Misspells “Internal Revenue Service” or tax preparation service name; and/or
- References an IRS link that does not contain https://www.irs.gov - to see the actual link address, place your mouse over the link text without clicking.
If you receive a suspicious email claiming to come from the IRS, take the following steps:
- Don’t reply to the message.
- Don’t give out your personal or financial information.
- Forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then Delete it.
- Do not open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.
For more information, please visit our Cybersecurity Practices Initiative site at http://www.cybersecurity.ttu.edu. On the website, you will find a rich collection of cyber safety practices and information, such as avoiding identity theft, mobile device data protection, social networking tips, and other topics of interest to digital citizens. For more information or questions, please contact your local IT expert or an area IT consultant. Some area IT consultants are listed at http://www.cybersecurity.ttu.edu under “Additional Resources.”