The Internal Revenue Service sent out an alert Tuesday warning tax preparers about an phishing email message purporting to ask them to update their IRS e-Services information.
“It has come to our attention that an email is being issued to tax preparers asking them to update their e-services information,” said the IRS alert. “This email WAS NOT generated by e-Services. The links provided in the email to access e-Services appear to be a phishing scam to capture e-Services usernames and passwords. If you receive an email like this, do not click on the links or take any other action. There is no need to call us. Just disregard the email.”
The IRS has been working to combat the rising tide of tax-related identity theft, forming a partnership known as the Security Summit with state tax authorities, tax preparation software vendors and major tax prep chains to share information. The latest effort, annopunced last week, is a public awareness campaign, known as the “Taxes. Security. Together.” campaign, using email and YouTube videos to remind taxpayers to protect their identities (see IRS, States and Tax Prep Companies Launching Security Awareness Campaign for Taxpayers).
The IRS posted the first of the Security Awareness Tax Tip series on Monday, providing seven ways people can protect their computers, which takes on added importance as people prepare for the holidays and the 2016 tax season approaches. The IRS said a new tip will be available each Monday through the start of the tax season in January.
“These are common-sense tips to help taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “While many people follow these, we all know someone who can miss taking critical steps to protect their sensitive personal and financial information, which can be used to file a fraudulent tax return.”
The “Taxes. Security. Together.” campaign—a joint effort announced last week between the IRS, states and the private-sector tax industry—is designed to raise public awareness that even routine actions on the Internet and their personal devices can affect the safety of their financial and tax data. The education campaign will complement the expanded series of important new protections the IRS, states and tax industry are putting in place for the start of the 2016 filing season to address tax-related identity theft.
The tips, which will be in English and Spanish, will be available on IRS.gov as well as through the states and many in the tax industry. Taxpayers can also subscribe to receive these tips by email – as well as other important tax information for the upcoming tax season. People can also subscribe to receive updates in Spanish.
In coming weeks, the tax tips will touch on key topics such as ongoing phishing schemes and aggressive phone scammers posing as IRS officials. Other tips will discuss the importance of protecting sensitive paper and electronic tax records as well as watching out for friends and family who don’t keep their computer’s software security updated.
“With more than 150 million households filing tax returns, we all have a part to play,” Koskinen said. “With the public’s help, this will greatly strengthen and improve the new tools being put in place by the IRS, states and industry this January.”
The IRS, tax industry and states will also be releasing additional YouTube videos highlighting these tips as tax season approaches. The first of the series of YouTube videos is now available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMH8TBeA4lE
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