IRS warns tax pros of surge in e-Services scams

The Internal Revenue Service said Friday it has seen a surge in the past 24 hours of a phishing email scam seeking to steal tax practitioners’ usernames and passwords for the IRS's online e-Services.

The subject lines on the emails differ but typically relate to e-Service account closures. For example, the subject line might say:

  • Account Closure!
  • e-Service Account is Blocked
  • Few Hours to Close Your Account
  • Your Account is Closed
  • Your Account is Terminated
  • 24Hrs to Block Your Account

The bogus email is “signed” by “IRS gov e-Services.” If unwary tax preparers click on a link in the phishing email, it will send them to a fraudulent e-Services login page where identity thieves can steal a user’s credentials.

The Internal Revenue Service and the other members of its Security Summit group, including state tax agencies and companies in the tax industry, are cautioning tax professionals to watch out for such scams, especially as the April 18 filing deadline nears.

IRS building 2
A woman walks out of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) headquarters building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Taxpayers have until Monday, April 18 to file their 2015 tax returns and pay any tax owed. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The thieves are capitalizing on the IRS's increased efforts to beef up the protections for e-Services by requiring many tax professionals to authenticate themselves by revalidating their identities so they can avoid delays in reaching their e-Services accounts. If an e-Services account has been closed because of a failure to revalidate it, tax professionals should contact the IR's e-Services Help Desk to get it opened again. Users who are dubious about the validity of such emails should not open a link or attachment. Instead the IRS is advising them to go directly to https://www.irs.gov/eservices.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.