While many website users in Northern Nevada, including Churchill County, are receiving emails pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service, the government agency warns users that these emails are scams.
One such email was sent to the Lahontan Valley News informing the newspaper of a $1,250 tax refund and to return via email both a bank checking and routing number, address and name of the bank.
Local law enforcement agencies have received reports from residents about this latest scam.
Raphael Tulino, spoksesman for the IRS, said phishing is a scam typically carried out with the help of unsolicited email or a fake website that poses as a legitimate site to lure in potential victims and prompt them to provide valuable personal and financial information. Armed with this information, a criminal can commit identity theft or financial theft.
“There are so many variations of phishing that they tend to be here and then they are gone,” he said.
Tulino said from about the end of April through June and July, the IRS is processing refunds most of those checks being sent to taxpayers,” he said. “Phishing is around, but we don’t come out of the blue to contact people.”
If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to email@example.com.
Tulino said the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS has information online that can help you protect yourself from email scams.
The IRS has also seen a recent increase in local phone scams across the country this year — before and after filing time in April — with callers pretending to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims.
According to Tulino, these phone scams include many variations, ranging from instances from where callers say the victims owe money or are entitled to a huge refund.
Characteristics of these scams can include the following:
Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
Scammers “spoof” or imitate the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
In another variation, one sophisticated phone scam has targeted taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do: If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue — if there really is such an issue.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
If you’ve been targeted by these scams, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.