New IRS scam falsely claims to be from Taxpayer Advocate Service

scam-alert-pic-150x150As the deadline approaches to file income taxes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reporting a new scam by criminals impersonating IRS personnel. Your BBB recently shared a warning from the IRS about a scam targeting immigrants.

Now the IRS is warning consumers to be on the lookout for a new email phishing scam designed to trick you into giving up personal information. The scam emails claim to be from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service and include a fake case number.

The bogus emails may include the message: “Your reported 2013 income is flagged for review due to a document processing error. Your case has been forwarded to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance. To avoid delays processing your 2013 filing contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance.”

The phishing email will then tell you to click links that supposedly provide information about the “advocate” assigned to your case or let you “review reported income.” In reality, the links take you to web pages designed to gather your personal information.

If you get a message like that, do not respond or click the links. Instead, forward the scam emails to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. For more info, visit the IRS’s Report Phishing web page.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is a real IRS organization that helps taxpayers resolve federal tax issues. The IRS–including TAS–does not contact taxpayers via email, texting or any social media.

See the “Dirty Dozen” list on IRS.gov for more IRS scams to watch out for.

BBB has the following advice to avoid being victimized by an IRS phone scam:

  • Don’t fall for threatening tactics.  Scammers sometimes use fake names and badge numbers, sometimes they even know the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number. They also use tricks like spoofing the IRS toll-free number on caller ID, sending bogus IRS emails and calling back pretending to be police or some other official.
  • Avoid unknown callers requesting money. The IRS first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes. The IRS won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS also won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.
  • When in doubt hang up. If you are at all skeptical of the caller, hang up and call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to be sure you are speaking with an IRS employee.
  • Report the incident. report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their FTC Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov.  Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.