IRS reports 400% surge in phishing, malware incidents this tax season

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ATLANTA — The Internal Revenue Service issued a new warning for consumers after seeing a 400% surge in phishing and malware incidents in the first few weeks of the 2016 tax season.

According to the IRS, the incidents are all tied to emails.

They are designed to look like official correspondence with the IRS or other tax companies, the agency said, and it’s all in an attempt to steal your information.

So far, they’ve seen emails seeking information about your refund, personal information, filing status, and even ones asking you to verify your PIN information.

The IRS has seen an increase in reported phishing and malware schemes, including:

  • There were 1,026 incidents reported in January, up from 254 from a year earlier.
  • The trend continued in February, nearly doubling the reported number of incidents compared to a year ago. In all, 363 incidents were reported from Feb. 1-16, compared to the 201 incidents reported for the entire month of February 2015.
  • This year’s 1,389 incidents have already topped the 2014 yearly total of 1,361, and they are halfway to matching the 2015 total of 2,748.

Scammers have even been able to find a way to target consumers via text message.

“Don’t be a victim of this mindless criminal behavior,” said IRS spokesperson Mark S. Green. “Be very careful who you trust for tax advice and who you trust with your personal information on the internet. Con artists shamelessly take advantage of people. People should be on-guard for these scams, and safeguard their social security numbers, finances and personal information. We urge people not to click on these emails.”

“The IRS DOES NOT initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text, social media or electronic communications to request personal or financial information,” added Green.

If you receive a suspicious email from the IRS, report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov.

 

 

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