Got a Text from the IRS? Beware it’s a scam!

Got a Text from the IRS? Beware it’s a scam!

The IRS will not send you a text message

by Leslie Pedder

We’ve warned you before, and we’ll warn you again because these crooks are super sneaky.  Do not respond to a text message from unknown numbers, even if they are claiming to be the IRS.

Resist the irresistible freakout IRS text

In a recent press release, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) warns of the influx of texting scams claiming to be the IRS. These cybercriminals use SMS/text message phishing tactics to target individuals, luring them into revealing personal and financial information.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Retting gives a word of warning sharing, “This is phishing on an industrial scale so thousands of people can be at risk of receiving these scam messages. In recent months, the IRS has reported multiple large-scale smishing campaigns that have delivered thousands – and even hundreds of thousands – of IRS-themed messages in hours or a few days, far exceeding previous levels of activity.”  Yup, he said Smishing.

What is phishing versus smishing? 

Phishing is a play on the word fishing, denoting the action of cybercriminals ‘fishing’ for your personal and private information. With phishing, cybercriminals pretend to be real organizations to gain your trust and increase the likelihood of clicking their disguised link or sharing private information.

SMS text message + Phishing = Smishing

Phishing text messages, also known as ‘smishing’ are scams aimed specifically at cell phone users.

Does the IRS send text messages to taxpayers?

No, absolutely not. Smishing campaigns have been increasing, offering fake COVID relief, tax credits, and even pretending to assist with setting up an online account with the IRS. The IRS will never send text messages asking for personal or financial information. If you receive any message from a number claiming to be the IRS, do not respond.

The IRS will also never send you an email asking for private information. The IRS recently discovered a phishing scam that used three dozen stolen or fake email addresses to create over 1,000 fraudulent domains.

How to identify and avoid a ‘smishing’ attack?

  • Simply by looking for inconsistencies in the message. Be on the lookout for misspellings, grammar mistakes, strange requests, and messages originating from an email address.
  • Before clicking any links or responding to a message, verify it is a legitimate source.
  • Use an email program like StartMail which offers a number of extra layers of privacy protection and can help catch phishing links as they come in.
  • Always install antivirus protection as a precaution against scammers. Our #1 antivirus pick for both Androids and iPhones is TotalAV.   Their product is full of features to keep you safe from malware and protect you when browsing the internet including ransomware protection, real-time antivirus protection, elimination of viruses and malware, a tool to free up your computer’s space, plus more.   Limited-time deal for CyberGuy readers: $19 your first year (80% off).  Read our full review of Best Antivirus Protection picks here.

What to do if you receive a scam text message from the IRS?

Luckily, the IRS has sprung into action to stop scam text messages. If you receive any IRS scams, you can report them to phishing@irs.gov or forward the text message to 7726(SPAM)

If you receive a text message that you may believe is a scam, remember Retting’s warning, “Taxpayers and tax pros need to remain constantly vigilant with suspicious IRS-related emails and text messages. And if you get one, sending the IRS important details from the text can help us disrupt the scams and protect others.”

 

Learn more about the increase in phishing scams on smartphones and one of the latest email phishing scams pretending to be Microsoft.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so check out some of our articles below to help keep you and your family safe. 

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