The IRS is warning about a new tax scam that uses a Web site that mimics the IRS e-Services online registration page.
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The actual IRS e-Services page offers Web-based products for tax preparers and payers, not the general public. The phony Web page looks almost identical to the real one.
The IRS reports it receives “many reports” of fake Web sites like this, on which criminals lure visitors into providing personal and financial information.
“The address of the official IRS Web site is www.irs.gov. Don’t be misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov,” the warning reads.
(In a search separate from the IRS warning, the top result for a Google search of “IRS” followed by “.com,” “.net” and “.org” all turned up sites with disclaimers that they were not associated with the U.S. Treasury or the IRS. A search for “Irs.com” first turned up a site called “US Tax Center,” “irs.net” the home page of “IRS Tax Settling Advice,” and “irs.org” the home page of a site operated by Reflex Publishing.)
The IRS advises users who find a suspicious Web site that claims to be the IRS to send the URL by e-mail to email@example.com using the subject line “Suspicious website.”
In the wake of many preparers’ concerns that their e-mail addresses have been secured from the IRS by third parties under the Freedom of Information Act, the warning also adds, “Be aware that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. If you get an unsolicited e-mail that appears to be from the IRS, report it by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org," the warning adds.
Additional related IRS resources include:
• Identify Theft Resource page; and,
• Pub. 4523, “Beware of Phishing Schemes”.