Texting and phishing and phoning, oh my!
Identity thieves will do whatever they can to steal your information. These three identity-stealing scams are popular ones to be aware of.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases an annual “Dirty Dozen” list. These identity-stealing scams and schemes are highlighted to warn taxpayers every year. The IRS urges you to “be on the lookout for bogus calls, texts, emails, and posts online to gain trust or steal.” (IRS)
Unfortunately, many scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic. Via text messaging scams, they get people to disclose their personal information. Posing as the IRS, these texts will urge taxpayers to provide passwords, bank account info, or other sensitive information to access stimulus payments or refunds.
The IRS will never text you directly asking for personal information. Don’t click the links or open attachments in suspicious messages.
Similarly, scammers will use threatening phone messages posing as the IRS or other enforcement agencies. They’ll often demand a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.
These scams can be convincing, as they will “spoof” or mimic the phone numbers of official agencies. Threatening an arrest warrant, law-enforcement agency intervention, deportation, or revocation of licenses, they make a convincing case to return their call and provide payment info. Please don’t do it!
Email phishing is another tactic used by scammers. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails pretending to be from reputable companies to get recipients to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
As with the other communication methods, the IRS does not initiate communication with taxpayers by email, text, or phone call to obtain personal or payment information. They usually communicate via regular US Postal mail.
If you are the recipient of any of these scammy messages or attempts, the IRS urges you to forward screenshots or attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more on the IRS resource for reporting phishing scams.