The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a warning about a new scam mailing that attempts to deceive recipients into believing they have an unclaimed refund. The fraudulent scheme involves a cardboard envelope delivered by a third-party service and includes a letter with the IRS masthead, urging individuals to respond regarding their alleged refund.
The deceptive letter, reminiscent of previous scams, provides illegitimate contact information and solicits sensitive personal details, such as driver’s license pictures. Identity thieves can exploit this information to perpetrate tax refund fraud and gain access to other confidential financial data.
Warning Signs and Red Flags
The Security Summit, a collaborative effort involving the IRS, state tax administrators, and the tax industry, advises individuals to safeguard their personal information against tax-related identity theft and similar scams. The recent scam demonstrates several common characteristics found in email and text-based schemes. Notably, it persuades recipients to submit highly detailed personal information, a distinct feature designed to facilitate identity theft.
The deceptive letter insists on obtaining various sensitive details, including driver’s license photos, cellphone numbers, bank routing information, Social Security numbers, and bank account types. It concludes with a poorly worded instruction, suggesting the need to submit this information to a “Filing Agent” to claim the purported unclaimed property.
Remain Vigilant Against Scams
The IRS and its Security Summit partners regularly caution the public about prevalent scams, including the annual IRS Dirty Dozen list. Individuals and tax professionals must exercise caution when encountering unsolicited communications impersonating legitimate organizations within the tax and financial industry, such as the IRS and state agencies. These deceptive messages, commonly delivered through unsolicited emails or texts, aim to deceive unsuspecting victims into disclosing sensitive personal and financial information, often through phishing or smishing techniques.
It is crucial to note that the IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers via email, text, or social media regarding tax refunds or bills. To avoid falling victim to such scams, individuals should refrain from clicking on unsolicited communications claiming to be from the IRS, as they may contain malware or ransomware. Instead, individuals should report scams by sending the email or a copy of the text as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org, providing relevant details such as the caller ID, date, time, time zone, and the number that received the message.
Taxpayers can also report scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Additional information and resources can be found on the “Report Phishing and Online Scams” page on IRS.gov, while the Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker offers valuable protection against mobile security threats.
Moreover, individuals should exercise caution when receiving messages from seemingly familiar sources, as compromised email or text accounts are commonly exploited in scams. To verify the identity of the sender, individuals should use an independent method of communication, such as contacting a known and reliable number rather than relying on information provided in the suspicious email or text.
Q: What is the new scam mailing that the IRS has warned taxpayers about?
A: The new scam mailing that the IRS has warned taxpayers about is a deceptive scheme that aims to mislead recipients into believing they have an unclaimed refund. It involves a cardboard envelope delivered by a third-party service, containing a letter with the IRS masthead, prompting individuals to respond regarding their alleged refund.
Q: What kind of personal information does the deceptive letter in the scam mailing seek?
A: The deceptive letter in the scam mailing solicits sensitive personal details, including driver’s license pictures, cellphone numbers, bank routing information, Social Security numbers, and bank account types.
Q: How can identity thieves exploit the information obtained from the scam mailing?
A: Identity thieves can exploit the information obtained from the scam mailing to perpetrate tax refund fraud and gain access to other confidential financial data, exposing individuals to the risk of identity theft and financial loss.
Q: What are some warning signs and red flags associated with this scam?
A: Some warning signs and red flags associated with this scam include the use of illegitimate contact information, poorly worded instructions, odd punctuation, a mixture of fonts, and inaccuracies such as referring to tax refunds as “unclaimed property.” These indicators can help individuals identify the fraudulent nature of the mailing.
Q: What steps should individuals take to protect themselves against scams and report fraudulent communications to the IRS?
A: To protect themselves against scams and report fraudulent communications to the IRS, individuals should avoid clicking on unsolicited communications claiming to be from the IRS, report scams by sending the email or a copy of the text as an attachment to email@example.com, and utilize resources such as the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the Internet Crime Complaint Center for reporting. It is also important to exercise caution when receiving messages from familiar sources, verifying the identity of the sender through independent communication methods, and staying informed about the IRS’s official communication practices.