Be aware that fraudsters are trying everything they can to obtain your personal or business financial information. I received a call from a doctor client who indicated that she received an e-mail from the IRS stating that they were due a refund for taxes paid. The e-mail looks legitimate as even indicates an official looking reply to address – email@example.com. The body of the email states the following:
You have received a tax refund according to your request.
Please download attached document with approved 32086U form.
Additional information regarding tax refunds can be found on our website: http://www.irs.gov/Refunds
The website that is referenced to research refunds is really an IRS site, but there is no such “approved form” – the e-mail is not from the Internal Revenue Service. Here are five things that you should know about these scams:
- The IRS will not ask for detailed personal and financial information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit cards, bank or other financial accounts
- The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail and will not send a message about your tax account. If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to b e the IRS or directing you to an IRS site, as my client did here – take note:
- Do not reply to the message
- Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer
- Do not click on any links.
- The address of the official IRS website is http://www.irs.gov. Do not be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS that contain a URL ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations. Note that I said that my client’s e-mail says reply to firstname.lastname@example.org – this doesn’t mean it is actually from the IRS. The fraudster’s goal is to gain access to your personal or, in this case, your business financial information – whether that is by placing a malicious file on your computer or asking you to provide information. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS and you suspect that it is bogus, do not provide any personal information and report the site to the IRS.
- If you receive a phone call, fax or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS and you suspect that they are not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. If not, report any bogus correspondence.
- You can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. Details on how to report specific types of scams and what to do if you have been victimized are available on the Internal Revenue Service’s website at http://www.irs.gov, keyword “phishing”.
For helpful information on this subject matter, register your name and e-mail on my website and I’ll send you my free e-book resource – The Identity Theft First Aid Kit.
Mike DeVries is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™, Enrolled Agent, and a Certified Healthcare Business Consultant focusing on helping healthcare professionals. If you would like to learn more about becoming a client, contact Mike at www.vmde.com.